'British soldier' butchered in suspected Islamist attack

23rd May 2013, Comments 0 comments

Two men wielding knives and a gun murdered a man believed to be a British soldier near a London barracks Wednesday, before delivering an Islamist tirade to passers-by.

Prime Minister David Cameron, condemning the "appalling" attack, added: "There are strong indications that it is a terrorist incident."

Eyewitnesses described how two men attacked a man in the street in broad daylight with knives and a gun. They then stayed at the scene, asking passers-by to photograph and film them.

Armed police shot and wounded the two attackers after bystanders had called them to the scene.

Amateur footage of one of the men carrying a blood-stained knife and meat cleaver shows him saying: "We swear by almighty Allah we will never stop fighting you."

The man, a black man dressed in a hooded jacket and black woolly hat, speaks in a London accent.

"We must fight them as they fight us. An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth," he says.

"I apologise 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."

Reports said the man attacked was wearing a t-shirt bearing the logo of the British military charity Help for Heroes.

One eyewitness, identified only as James, told local radio station LBC the two assailants "were hacking at this poor guy.

"We thought they were trying to remove organs or something. These two guys were crazy, they just were not there, they were just animals."

The government's emergency response committee, COBRA, met hours after the attack, which took place in broad daylight near the Royal Artillery Barracks in Woolwich, southeast London.

It will convene again early on Thursday, Cameron revealed.

Security was reinforced at all army barracks in London following the incident.

Cameron, who returned early from talks with French President Francois Hollande in Paris, called the attack "truly shocking".

Hollande said at a press conference with Cameron that the victim was a soldier, but the British prime minister gave no confirmation.

Cameron said: "We've had this sort of attack before in our country and we never buckle in the face of them.

"People across Britain, people in every community, I believe, will utterly condemn this attack."

A local member of parliament, Nick Raynsford, said he believed the dead man was a soldier.

Home Secretary Theresa May said: "It has been confirmed to me that a man has been brutally murdered this afternoon in southeast London.

"Two other men were shot by armed police and they are currently receiving treatment for their injuries. This is a sickening and barbaric attack."

The Muslim Council of Britain said the killers' use of "Islamic slogans" indicated they were motivated by their faith.

A statement from the council said: "This is a truly barbaric act that has no basis in Islam and we condemn this unreservedly. Our thoughts are with the victim and his family."

Police were called at 2:20 pm (1320 GMT) to reports of one man being assaulted by two others.

Britain's top policeman confirmed two men had been arrested following the "shocking and horrific" attack.

"We have launched a murder investigation, being led by the Counter Terrorism Command," explained Metropolitan Police Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe

"Two men have been arrested in connection with that murder.

"It is hard to comprehend the shocking and horrific scenes we have seen this afternoon on a busy street as Londoners went about their day as normal."

Police commander Simon Letchford earlier said that "a number of weapons" had been reportedly used by the assailants.

Local officers, then firearms police officers arrived on the scene where they found a man who was later pronounced dead.

A white and blue police evidence tent was visible in the street and police tape sealed off the scene which was being scoured by officers in forensic suits.

Police later arrested two people as they tried to quell revenge attacks.

A 43-year-old man was detained in Braintree, southeast England, after reportedly walking into a mosque with a knife and another man was in custody in nearby Gillingham on suspicion of racially aggravated criminal damage.

Around 250 members of the anti-Islamist English Defence League were involved in minor scuffles with police at Woolwich Arsenal train station before dispersing.

A Buckingham Palace spokesman said Queen Elizabeth II -- who is due to visit the barracks later this month -- was "concerned" by the attack and was being kept updated.

The United States condemned the attack.

"We stand with our UK allies in the face of such senseless violence," State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell said in a statement.

"Our thoughts and condolence are with the family of the victim and the British people."


© 2013 AFP

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