Two assailants armed with meat cleavers attacked and killed a man Wednesday near a London military barracks. One attacker was filmed with bloodied hands shouting political statements, prompting UK police to treat the attack as a terrorist incident.
Two assailants armed with meat cleavers and other weapons attacked and killed a man near a London military barracks on Wednesday. One attacker was filmed with bloodied hands making political statements to witnesses after the attack, prompting UK police to treat the attack as a terrorist incident.
The two men were then shot and wounded by police, who were called to the Woolwich scene by passers-by. The suspects were transported to separate London hospitals, with one of the men reportedly in a serious condition.
Eyewitness account of London attack
One witness said she first noticed a car that had crashed into a lamp post, and thought the two black men leaning over a body in the street were trying to resuscitate the victim of a traffic accident.
But she said later it became clear that the men were armed, one of them with a handgun. When the police car arrived, the men moved to attack.
“The black bloke with the two machetes ran toward the police, so they shot him,” she said. “And the other one looked like he was going to lift the gun up, so they shot him as well.”
‘Strong indications’ of terrorism
French President François Hollande, speaking at a press conference in Paris with British Prime Minister David Cameron, said the victim was a British soldier.
Cameron told reporters there were "strong indications'' that this was a terrorist incident, but said Britain would prevail.
"We have suffered these attacks before, we have always beaten them back,'' Cameron said. "We will not be cowed, we will never buckle."
Cameron's office said he was cutting short his trip to return to London and would chair an emergency committee meeting on Thursday.
Britain's Ministry of Defense said it was urgently investigating the incident. The Independent Police Complaints Commission, which is called in when officers are involved in shootings, has also launched an inquiry.
Video footage shot by witnesses and obtained by ITV news showed a man in a dark jacket and knit cap walking towards the camera, clutching a meat cleaver and a knife in bloodied hands.
"This British soldier is an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth," he tells the camera.
Speaking in a London accent, he apologised to the women who “have had to witness this”, but said that “in our lands, our women have to see the same”.
He did not specify what country or countries he was referring to.
The man then urged the government to “bring our troops back”. British troops are currently deployed in Afghanistan, and the UK recently stated its support for the French-led intervention in Mali.
"It is the most appalling crime," says Cameron
“We swear by almighty Allah we will never stop fighting you,” he declared. “We must fight them as they fight us.”
Pavement stained with blood
Live television images showed blood-stained pavement, cordoned-off streets and crime scene investigators marking the scene.
The British cabinet's civil emergency committee immediately called a meeting and the prime minister's Downing Street office said security was stepped up at barracks across London.
Fred Oyat, a 44-year-old who lives in a high-rise near where the attack occurred, said he heard four gun shots and then went straight to the window.
"I saw one man lying there bleeding, another lying on the pavement being disarmed. A policeman was pointing a gun at him. A third man was lying further up the street ... he was bleeding profusely,'' Oyat said.
"There were four knives on the ground -- big kitchen knives. The knives were very bloody.''
David Dixon, head teacher of a nearby primary school, saw a body lying in the road and said police told him there was a serious incident.
He told the BBC he then made sure the children were inside and put the school into lockdown mode. He said he then heard shots fired.
The barracks -- which house a number of the King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery and independent companies of the Grenadier and Coldstream Guards -- were the site of shooting events during the 2012 London Olympics.
(FRANCE 24 with wires)
Date created : 2013-05-22