A British soldier was hacked to death by two men shouting Islamic slogans in a south London street, in what the government said appeared to be a terrorist attack.
A dramatic clip filmed by an onlooker just minutes after the killing showed a man with hands covered in blood, brandishing a bloodied meat cleaver and a knife.
“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,” the black man in his 20s or 30s, wearing a wool jacket and jeans and speaking with a local accent, shouted in the footage obtained by Britain’s ITV news channel.
“This British soldier is an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.”
The attack was the first apparent Islamist killing in London since suicide bombers struck transport in July 2005. The capital was shocked by the bizarre scene of a killer covered in gore, declaring his motive to onlookers.
Police shot the two suspects while trying to arrest them, and the wounded men were taken into custody. No information was immediately released about the identity of the suspects, but two sources familiar with the investigation told Reuters authorities were investigating a possible link to Nigeria.
“I apologize that women had to witness that, but in our lands our women have to see the same thing. You people will never be safe. Remove your government. They don’t care about you,” the videotaped man said before crossing the street and speaking casually to the other attacker.
Prime Minister David Cameron cut short a visit to France to return to London and chair an emergency national security meeting.
“The police are urgently seeking the full facts about this case but there are strong indications that it is a terrorist incident,” Cameron said before cutting short talks with French President Francois Hollande to return home.
“We have had these sorts of attacks before in our country and we never buckle in the face of them,” he said.
The attack happened on the edge of London’s sprawling Royal Artillery Barracks in Woolwich, a south London working class district which has long-standing historic links to the military.
In signs of a backlash after the attack, more than 100 angry supporters of the English Defense League, a far-right street protest group, took to the streets, some wearing balaclavas and carrying England’s red and white flag. They were contained by riot police.