The UK government’s emergency response committee will meet again this morning, in the wake of a machete killing in broad daylight on a London street.
Prime Minister David Cameron will chair the emergency COBRA session himself.
A 20-year-old man – unofficially described as a soldier – was first knocked over by a car and then hacked to death in the suburb of Woolwich, near a large military barracks and court complex.
A video taken by a bystander just minutes after the killing has emerged, showing the blood-soaked attacker brandishing a knife and a cleaver and speaking directly to the camera.
In the clip, obtained by UK newspaper The Sun, the man says: “We swear by almighty Allah we will never stop fighting you. The only reason we have done this is because Muslims are dying every day…This British soldier is an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.” He went on to say, “You people will never be safe. Remove your government. They don’t care about you.”
Warning: this video contains footage that young or sensitive viewers may find disturbing or upsetting
See the clip of the suspected attacker here
Police shot two suspects at the scene, both are currently under arrest in hospital.
Local media have named one of the attackers as 28 year-old Michael Adebolajo and reported that police have raided the home of his Nigerian family. Unconfirmed reports from the British media suggest the men came from Christian immigrant families before converting to Islam.
Boris Johnson, Mayor of London said, “It was a sickening, barbaric, completely unforgivable crime. I know that Londoners have been through terrorism before and this city has a huge resilience. What we also have is the best, most professional security services and the best police in the world to protect us and they are now going to get to the bottom of exactly what’s happened.”
Speculation is rife in the media and on the streets that this is a jihadist attack. There have been sporadic clashes overnight between far-right activists and police.
“Enough’s enough. Our message is – enough’s enough. We have weak leaders, weak police. Our police, our leaders tiptoe around this issue. This issue is political Islam. It’s political Islam that’s spreading across this country,” said Tommy Robinson, spokesman for the far-right English Defence League.
UK Prime Minister David Cameron spoke to reporters outside Downing Street, saying: “We will never give in to terror or terrorism in any of its forms.” He added “This was not just an attack on Britain and on the British way of life, it was also a betrayal of Islam and of the Muslim communities who give so much to our country”
A murder inquiry has been launched by police counter-terrorism experts.