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The brutal slaying of a suspected soldier in broad daylight is like nothing ever seen before in England, according to correspondent Nick Miller.
London: A man believed to be a British soldier has been hacked to death in broad daylight on the streets of London in an apparent terrorist attack.
An eyewitness told LBC radio that two men had attacked a young man in Woolwich, south-east London, with a weapon described as a machete or cleaver.
The attack took place about 200 metres from the Royal Artillery Barracks, which houses several military companies. The local MP Nick Raynsford said he believed the dead man was a serving soldier.
“They were hacking at this poor guy,” an eyewitness said. “They were chopping him, cutting him. These two guys were crazed. They were just animals.”
The suspects then dragged the body into the middle of the road and waited for the police to arrive, waving knives and a gun.
The man, dressed in a grey hooded jacket and black woolly hat, made a number of political statements to bystanders.
In a video obtained by ITV, an alleged attacker with bloodied hands and carrying a knife said :"We must fight them as they fight us. An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.
‘‘We swear by almighty Allah we will never stop fighting you.
“I apologise that women 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.”
I apologise that women have had to witness this today, but in our land our women have to see the same.
In another video published by The Sun, the man says “Get rid of (politicians), tell them to bring our troops back so you can all live in peace.”
Police then arrived and opened fire on the two suspects after they tried to attack them, eyewitnesses said.
One eyewitness said the victim of the attack was a man wearing a ‘Help for Heroes’ T-shirt. The attackers had rammed their victim with a blue car before attacking him with a large knife or machete.
The BBC reported that the men had shouted ‘Allahu Akbah’ which means ‘God is great’ during the attack.
British Prime Minister David Cameron said there were strong indications it was a terrorist attack.
“We have had these sort of attacks before in this country and we never buckle in the face of them,” he said.
On Wednesday night local time two sources close to the investigation said police were investigating a possible Nigerian link to the attack, without giving any further details.
Hours after the attack scores of members of the far-right English Defence League gathered in the streets of Woolwich and threw missiles at police before being dispersed.The league's leader, Tommy Robinson, who was among the group, said:
‘‘They’re chopping our soldiers’ heads off. This is Islam. That’s what we’ve seen today ... Everyone’s had enough. There has to be a reaction, for the government to listen, for the police to listen, to understand how angry this British public are.’’
Two incidents of attacks on mosques were reported in south-east England. One man was arrested on suspicion of racially aggravated criminal damage after an attack on a mosque in Gillingham, Kent. And a 43-year-old man was in custody on suspicion of attempted arson after reportedly walking into a mosque with a knife in Braintree, Essex.
Attacker speaks after Woolwich knifing
A man with bloodied knives in his hand, who along with another assailant, killed a British soldier on a London street tries to justify his actions to bystanders. Warning: images may distress some viewers.
The government’s emergency response ‘Cobra’ committee has held an emergency meeting.
Mr Cameron cancelled talks with the French president to return to London.
Home Secretary Theresa May said it was a “barbaric case”.
Security has been increased at barracks across London, she said.
‘‘A number of weapons were reportedly being used in the attack and this included reports of a firearm,’’ said police commander Simon Letchford.
Local police officers, then firearms officers, arrived on the scene where they found a man who was later pronounced dead.
‘‘Two men, who we believe from early reports to have been carrying weapons, were shot by police. They were taken to separate London hospitals. They are receiving treatment for their injuries,’’ Letchford said.
A Buckingham Palace spokesman said Queen Elizabeth II, who is due to visit the barracks later this month, is being kept updated.
‘‘The queen is of course concerned by the report of an attack in Woolwich,’’ he said.‘‘Her Majesty is being kept informed.’’
Australia's Attorney General Mark Dreyfus said he was ‘‘shocked’’ by the news from London and joined with the British government ‘‘condemning this horrific act of violence’’.
‘‘This latest, vicious act of terror reinforces to us all, that violence, influenced by twisted ideology, can strike without warning,’’ he said.
Air Marshal Mark Binskin, Vice Chief of the Defence Force said the force was ‘‘watching closely’’ events in Britain but based on consultations with Australia’s security agency and police forces, there was no reason to boost the level of military security here.
with AFP, Reuters