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British lawmaker dies after attack by gunman

PRU / AFP A video grab taken from footage broadcast by the UK parliamentary recording unit (PRU). Labour party member of parliament Jo Cox speaks during a session in the House of Commons in central London on March 21, 2016.
PRU / AFP A video grab taken from footage broadcast by the UK parliamentary recording unit (PRU). Labour party member of parliament Jo Cox speaks during a session in the House of Commons in central London on March 21, 2016.

A British member of parliament has died after she was shot and stabbed during an attack in her constituency in northern England on Thursday, British police have said.

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Media reports said Jo Cox, 41, who was a lawmaker for the opposition Labour Party, was attacked as she prepared to hold an advice surgery for constituents in Birstall near Leeds.

British Prime Minister David Cameron called her death a tragedy, referring to her as a "commited and caring member of Parliament."

West Yorkshire Police said a 52-year-old man had been arrested and that a 77-year-old man was also injured in the attack.

Acting Chief Constable Dee Collins said police believed it was a "lone incident" and were not looking for anyone else in connection with the attack.

According to reports in the British press, the suspect shouted “Britain First!” as he attacked the anti-Brexit MP, a possible reference to the fringe Britain First far-right nationalist party.

Nearby resident Graeme Howard told the Guardian he heard the man shout “Britain First” both before the shooting and while he was being arrested.

“I heard the shot and I ran outside and saw some ladies from the cafe running out with towels,” he told the newspaper. “There was loads of screaming and shouting and the police officers showed up."

“He was shouting Britain First when he was doing it and being arrested. He was pinned down by two police officers and she was taken away in an ambulance.”

Man fired twice

The Press Association news agency quoted eyewitness Hithem Ben Abdallah as saying Cox got involved in a scuffle between two men.

Abdallah said one of the men was fighting with Cox and then a gun went off twice and "she fell between two cars and I came and saw her bleeding on the floor."

Cox was taken by air ambulance to a nearby hospital and pronounced dead by a doctor an hour after the attack.

The northern-born MP was a Cambridge University graduate and aid worker before becoming Labour lawmaker for Batley and Spen in 2015. Known for her work on women’s issues, Cox had worked with several charities.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said "the whole of the Labour Party and Labour family - and indeed the whole country - will be in shock at the horrific murder of Jo Cox today."

British lawmakers are currently not in parliament ahead of next week’s referendum on whether Britain should remain in the European Union.

Both the Vote Leave and Britain Stronger in Europe campaigns have suspended activity following Thursday's attack.

(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS, AFP and AP)

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