Soldier killed in London in suspected terror attack

Two suspected Islamists decapitate soldier; PM Cameron cuts short visit to France to convene national security meeting.

May 23, 2013 01:51
3 minute read.
A police forensics officer investigates a crime scene where one man was killed in Woolwich, London

British murder scene 390. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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LONDON – Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron called an emergency meeting of his government’s Cobra security committee on Wednesday evening after a man, reported to be a serving British soldier, was decapitated on a south London street.

In what is being deemed a “serious Islamist terrorist attack,” a man was killed by two men wielding machetes allegedly shouting “Allahu akbar” in Woolwich, southeast London.

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Some viewers may find this footage distressing

The attack took place close to the Royal Artillery Barracks.

Security has now been tightened at the barracks and at other military installations across the capital, the Prime Minister’s Office said.

A dramatic video obtained by ITV News showed a man with bloodied hands wielding a bloodied meat cleaver approaching a camera. “We must fight them as they fight us. An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth,” he says.

The victim can be seen lying motionless in the background as the attacker continues: “I apologize that women have had to witness this today, but in our land our women have to see the same. You people will never be safe. Remove your government, they don’t care about you.”

Police said officers shot the two attackers, who were both alive and being held under armed guard, each in a different London hospital.

Witnesses say the pair appeared to deliberately drive their car at the victim, before getting out and attacking him with an array of knives.

Following the attack, and with the victim lying prone in the street, witnesses heard the pair chanting “Allahu akbar” and “We swear by almighty Allah we will never stop fighting you.”

The pair urged people to take photographs of them.

They were also reported to have said the attack was “God’s will” and that only a man can touch the corpse, “no women.”

Local resident Luke Huseyin, 32, told the Daily Mail that he saw the two men murder a man before being shot by police.

He said he saw a car that had crashed, adding: “Then two black guys got out of the car dragging a white guy across the road towards the wall. One of the guys had a knife that looked about a foot long and a machete and the other bloke had a gun.

“They started slashing him up with the knife and hitting him in the stomach with the machete. I don’t think it took long before he was dead. There were people passing by who were screaming and running away. I’ve never seen anything like it. I’m still really shaken up.

When he was dead, they dragged him out into the road and left him there.”

Witnesses said the attackers remained in the area until police arrived 20 minutes later. After one pulled out a gun, they were shot by police.

Cameron cut short a visit to France to return to London to chair the Cobra national security meeting.

“It is the most appalling crime,” the prime minister said in Paris. “The police are urgently seeking the full facts about this case, but there are strong indications that it is a terrorist incident.”

Cameron said Britain had faced terrorist attacks such as this before. “We will never buckle in the face of it,” he said.

Home Secretary Theresa May chaired Wednesday night’s meeting, which was also attended by Defense Secretary Philip Hammond, London Mayor Boris Johnson and officials from the Metropolitan Police and intelligence agencies.

The prime minister was to chair another Cobra meeting on Thursday morning.

Johnson said the event was “overwhelmingly likely” a terrorist act, and described it as a “sickening, deluded and unforgivable act of violence.”

The Muslim Council of Britain said the attack was “a truly barbaric act that has no basis in Islam and we condemn this unreservedly.”

In a statement, the organization added: “Our thoughts are with the victim and his family.

We understand the victim is a serving member of the armed forces. Muslims have long served in this country’s armed forces, proudly and with honor. This attack is dishonorable, and no cause justifies this murder.”

The spokesman called on all communities, Muslim and non- Muslim, to come together in solidarity to ensure the forces of hatred do not prevail. •

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