- Man tells camera: ‘I apologise that women had to witness this today’
- Soldier attacked with meat cleavers and knives in Woolwich, SE London
- Eyewitness says: ‘They were hacking at him, chopping him, cutting him’
- Two suspects waited until police arrived before trying to attack them
- Prime Minister David Cameron described the killing as ‘truly shocking’
- Cobra meeting hears there are strong indications it was terrorist incident
- Suspects used ‘a number of weapons’ in attack, Metropolitan Police say
- Muslim Council: Act will no doubt heighten tensions on British streets
PUBLISHED: 15:49, 22 May 2013 | UPDATED: 21:22, 22 May 2013
A dramatic video tonight emerged of a man with bloodied hands, carrying knives and ranting ‘We swear by almighty Allah we will never stop fighting you’, after a serving soldier was hacked to death by two men just 200 yards from an Army barracks.
The man can be seen and heard talking to the camera. The video came as terrified eyewitnesses saw two men shot by police marksmen after the machete attack in Woolwich, south-east London.
The two men are thought to have waited around for 20 minutes until Metropolitan Police officers arrived and then tried to attack them – but were swiftly shot by armed policemen, including a woman.
They apparently shouted ‘Allahu Akbar’, which means ‘God is great’ in Arabic, and tried to film the attack, the BBC’s political editor Nick Robinson said.
Scroll down for videos // Did you witness the killing and take pictures or video? Or do you know the men involved? Email us: [email protected]
Statement: ITV News obtained footage of a man with bloodied hands and knives speaking to a camera
Theresa May tonight called a meeting of the Government’s emergency Cobra committee in response to the machete and knife attack on the man who was wearing a Help for Heroes t-shirt.
The Home Secretary said she had been briefed on the killing by the head of MI5 and police later confirmed they were treating the incident as a possible terror attack.
The Cobra meeting heard that security has been tightened at Woolwich barracks and increased at all London barracks. It was also told there are strong indications that this was a terrorist incident.
Mrs May said said: ‘What happened today in Woolwich was a sickening and barbaric attack. This attack was an attack on everyone in the UK. It will be condemned by people from every community.
‘We have seen terrorism on the streets of Britain before, and have always stood firm against it. Despicable acts like these will not go unpunished.’
On the ground: Two men were shot by police marksmen after the machete attack in south-east London
Meanwhile Prime Minister David Cameron cancelled a meeting with French President Francois Hollande to return to London. He said Britain has faced similar terror attacks before and added: ‘We will never buckle in the face of it.’
‘We have seen terrorism on the streets of Britain before, and have always stood firm against it. Despicable acts like these will not go unpunished’
Home Secretary Theresa May
Before the dramatic video of the bloodied man was obtained by ITV News, eyewitnesses said the ‘crazed’ men in their 20s launched a ferocious attack and were ‘hacking, chopping and cutting him.’
In footage released by ITV News, a man with bloodied hands carrying a knife and a machete addresses people holding a camera, where he appears to attempt to justify the incident.
Speaking to those recording the scene he says: ‘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.’
In footage obtained by The Sun, he can also be heard saying: ‘You think David Cameron is going to get caught in the street when we start busting our guns you think politicians are going to die?
‘No it’s going to be the average guy, like you, and your children. So get rid of them. Tell them to bring our troops back so you can all live in peace.’
Following his outburst, the man walks back towards where the victim is lying in the middle of the road. He then speaks to another man as they stand near to the victim.
Women are later seen bravely tending to the man lying. The footage appears to have been taken before any of the emergency services have arrived at the scene.
Later footage has also emerged from shortly after police fired at two men. One of the men can be seen lying in the road, while the second is laid on the pavement.
The footage taken after the shootings was reported to have been taken by a man who had been on a bus on his way to a job interview.
One eyewitness claimed one of the soldier’s attackers was seen last week preaching in Woolwich.
Jamie France, 29, a local musician, said: ‘I spoke to my mum on the phone and showed her the video footage from the internet. She told me that she recognised one of the men with the knife.
‘She said she’d seen him last week preaching in Woolwich town centre. She said she remembers him because he’d been really angry and was saying all this political stuff.’
Mr Cameron said on Twitter that ‘the killing in Woolwich is truly shocking – I have asked the Home Secretary to chair a Cobra meeting.’
Help for Heroes, the charity whose t-shirt witnesses said the victim was wearing, said: ‘Help for Heroes is appalled to hear that a man, believed to be a serving soldier, has been brutally murdered in Woolwich today.
‘We are desperately saddened to hear of this sickening attack and offer our thoughts and prayers to his family, colleagues and friends.’
The charity’s website crashed as Britons queued up to pledge their support to it following the Woolwich killing, but it was up and running again a short while after.
Labour leader Ed Miliband, who is cutting short a visit to Germany to return to the UK, said: ‘This is a truly appalling murder which will shock the entire country. All of my thoughts are with the family and friends of the victim.
‘People across our country, whatever background they are from, will be united in condemning this attack and we will stand together, as we always do, in our response’
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg
‘The British people will be horrified by what has happened in Woolwich. They will be united in believing that this terror on our streets cannot be allowed to stand.’
And Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said: ‘This afternoon witnessed a shocking and horrifying murder on the streets of our capital. The whole nation’s thoughts will be with the family and friends of the victim this evening.
‘People across our country, whatever background they are from, will be united in condemning this attack and we will stand together, as we always do, in our response.’
A Buckingham Palace spokesman said: ‘The Queen is of course concerned by the report of an attack in Woolwich earlier today. Her Majesty is being kept informed.’
The spokesman also confirmed the Queen will visit the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery at Woolwich barracks on May 31, which was planned before today’s attack.
‘We will never buckle in the face of terrorism’
Prime Minister David Cameron
This afternoon the area’s MP, Nick Raynsford, told BBC Radio 5 Live he believed the victim, a man aged in his 20s, was a serving soldier.
The man is believed to have been hacked to death after a car crash. The scene of the attack is just 200 yards from Woolwich Barracks.
Mr Raynsford said: ‘We think a serving soldier was the victim. We don’t know the circumstances surrounding the incident. We do know a number of weapons have been seized.
‘They include a gun, various knives, and a machete, apparently. The police clearly had to take action in order to try and arrest these individuals.’
He also told Channel 4 News: ‘It is my understanding this man was a serving soldier based at the barracks. He had been on duty in central London and was making his way back to the barracks.’
A statement from the Muslim Council of Britain said it understood the victim was a member of the Armed Forces.
It said: ‘This is a truly barbaric act that has no basis in Islam and we condemn this unreservedly. Our thoughts are with the victim and his family.
‘We understand the victim is a serving member of the Armed Forces. Muslims have long served in this country’s Armed Forces, proudly and with honour.
‘This attack on a member of the Armed Forces is dishonourable, and no cause justifies this murder. This action will no doubt heighten tensions on the streets of the United Kingdom.
‘This is a truly barbaric act that has no basis in Islam and we condemn this unreservedly’
Muslim Council of Britain
‘We call on all our communities, Muslim and non-Muslim, to come together in solidarity to ensure the forces of hatred do not prevail.’
Locals at the scene were warned police may have to carry out a controlled explosion on the attackers’ car.
A father of three, who referred to himself only as Kwamu, said two police officer came to his flat, in a block just yards from the attack on John Wilson Road, at around 7pm to tell him to leave his home.
He said: ‘They knocked on my door about an hour ago, two police officer. The woman police officer told me to get my family together and get out. She said they think there could be a bomb in the car.
‘I was getting my daughters ready to go outside but when I went down the stairs some people from the block were going in. They told me that police now want us to stay inside. It is very frightening.’
The Ministry of Defence said it was urgently looking at the reports that the incident involved a soldier but had no further comment.
‘I can understand that this incident will cause community concerns and I would like to reiterate that we are investigating what has taken place today.
Luke Huseyin, 32, who lives in a block of flats on John Wilson Street, Woolwich, close to where the incident happened said he watched two men murder a man before being shot.
He said: ‘I was at home and heard a big bang. I looked out of the window and saw a car had crashed.
‘It was a blue Vauxhall. Then two black guys got out of the car dragging a white guy across the road towards the wall. One of the guys had a knife that looked about a foot long and a machete and the other bloke had a gun.
‘They started slashing him up with the knife and hitting him in the stomach with the machete. I don’t think it took long before he was dead. There were people passing by who were screaming and running away. I’ve never seen anything like it.
‘I’m still really shaken up. When he was dead, they dragged him out into the road and left him there. It was strange, they didn’t run off, they just stood there as if they were waiting for the police.
‘It must have taken about 20 minutes for the police to arrive, I think it must’ve been because they were waiting for armed police.
‘The police officers got out of the car and the two black men ran towards them with the gun.
‘The police shot them. They fell to the ground. Then a helicopter landed. Think it must’ve been an air ambulance.
‘The paramedics got out and I think they were working on the two men to try and keep them alive.
‘I don’t know if they died, they were taken away in the helicopter. A blanket was put over the white guy lying in the road. ‘I just can’t believe what I saw.’
Mother-of-four Julia Wilders, 51, said she was travelling past the scene and saw two men hacking at a man with meat cleavers.
‘Graham was driving and we drove past the car which was up against a lamp post. There were two black guys that looked like they were trying to resuscitate a white guy on the floor.
‘I thought there had been an accident. But then I saw they were using meat cleavers to hack him up.
‘We live just behind where it happened and once we got back we walked back to have a look and that’s when I saw one of the black guys pull out a handgun.
‘My husband screamed at me to get back. I was petrified. As I was running back I saw the police pull up and the black guy was running towards the police car and they shot him.
‘I didn’t see anything else, I just run back home.’
David Dixon is the headteacher of Mulgrave Primary School, which is located about 50 metres from the scene of the incident.
He saw a body in the road after realising something was happening and immediately locked down the school.
He said: ‘It was at the end of our road. As soon as we realised it was serious I went to see what had happened and then told staff to lock down the school and get the children inside.
‘I spoke to police to ask what we should do. There seemed to be a body in the middle of the road. The traffic was backed up and the police were on the scene.’
FIRST TERROR ATTACK ON BRITISH STREETS SINCE 2005 LONDON BOMBINGS
Today’s killing in broad daylight is thought to be the first terrorist attack on British streets since the 2005 London bombings.
The July 7 atrocity saw 52 people killed by four suicide bombers on London’s transport network. Since then, there have been a number of other plots – the first coming just two weeks after July 7.
Another group of four bombers had attempted to replicate the earlier attack but their plan failed. They were caught and each jailed for life.
With reports of the victim being a soldier, the Woolwich incident mirrors a plot which saw a Birmingham man jailed for life in 2008 for plotting to kidnap and kill a British Muslim soldier.
Parviz Khan admitted planning to lure the soldier off the streets with the promise of drugs – then film his beheading.
He was described in court as having ‘the most violent and extreme Islamist views’, with the judge saying his aim was to deter any Muslim from joining the British Army. Khan was ordered to serve at least 14 years in jail.
Terrorism also hit the headlines in June 2007 when, following an unsuccessful car bomb attack that targeted Tiger Tiger in central London, a flaming Jeep was driven at Glasgow Airport on June 30.
One of the perpetrators, Kafeel Ahmed, died in hospital after suffering severe burns in the attack, while Bilal Abdulla was arrested and given a life sentence the following year.
The most recent planned attack aimed at killing large numbers of victims was in May 2008.
Muslim convert Nicky Reilly was planning to blow up dozens of diners with a nail bomb in in Exeter, but he accidentally detonated the device in the restaurant’s toilet. He admitted the plan and also received a life sentence.
According to M15, there have been a total of 2,291 arrests under the Terrorism Act between September 11, 2001, and 30 September, 2012 and 312 people have been convicted of terrorism-related offences.
As of the end of September last year, there were 107 people serving sentences in UK prisons classified as terrorists. Notable plots in recent years include:
- A 2006 plan to blow up aircraft being flown between the UK, America and Canada using liquid explosives which led to 12 people being jailed.
- A plot to attack UK and US targets with a ‘dirty bomb’ and gas-filled limousines that saw al Qaida operative Dhiren Barot sentenced to 30 years in jail in 2006, and seven other men linked to the plot jailed the following year.
- Plans to target shopping centres and nightclubs using fertiliser-based explosives that led to five men being jailed for life in 2007.
- The attempted murder of Stephen Timms MP, who was stabbed by Roshonara Choudry. The student, who was said to have been inspired by extremist sermons she watched on the internet, was convicted of attempted murder in 2010.
- A plan to attack the London Stock Exchange, which saw nine members of a terrorist network later receive sentences of between five and 17 years each in February 2012.
Three high-profile sentencing hearings took place last month alone.
On April 18, four men from Luton – Zahid Iqbal, Mohammed Sharfaz Ahmed, Umar Arshad and Syed Farhan Hussain – were given long jail terms for their roles in plotting an al Qaida-inspired attack in the UK.
They had intended to carry out terrorist attacks in Luton using improvised explosive devices and all admitted engaging in conduct in preparation for acts of terrorism between January 2011 and April 2012.
British Islamic extremists Richard Dart, Imran Mahmood and Jahangir Alom were jailed for more than 20 years in total on April 25 after admitting engaging in conduct in preparation for acts of terrorism.
They had discussed targets including Wootton Bassett, the Old Bailey was told.
The following day, 11 men from Birmingham were sentenced for their roles in a major terrorist plot. They were said to have been planning suicide bomb blasts that would have rivalled both the July 7 and September 11 attacks.
Six men from the West Midlands also appeared in court last month to plead guilty to terrorist charges connected to an attempt to attack an English Defence League rally in June 2012.
Omar Mohammed Khan, Mohammed Hasseen, Anzal Hussain, Mohammed Saud, Zohaib Ahmed and Jewel Uddin admitted preparing an act of terrorism. All six will be sentenced on June 6.