A man thought to be a serving British soldier was killed by two armed men in a frenzied attack on a London street Wednesday, in what the government is treating as a suspected act of terrorism. Witnesses told of a gruesome scene in which the man was hit by a car, then hacked with cleavers and his body dumped in the middle of the road in Woolwich, southeast London.
The two suspects in the killing were injured in a confrontation with police and have been taken to two hospitals, where they are being treated. CNN affiliate ITN aired a video showing a man with bloody hands and holding a meat cleaver, who says, “We swear by almighty Allah we will never stop fighting you.”
The man, who seems to have a London accent, carries on: “The only reasons we killed this man this is because Muslims are dying daily. This British soldier is an eye for an eye a tooth for tooth.
“We apologize that women had to see this today but in our lands our women have to see the same. You people will never be safe. Remove your government. They don’t care about you.”
Those statements spurred the Muslim Council of Britain to issue a strong statement to condemn the attack as “a truly barbaric act that has no basis in Islam,” as well as to urge Muslim and non-Muslims alike “to come together in solidarity to ensure the forces of hatred do not prevail.”
In another video — obtained by the British tabloid newspaper The Sun and apparently shot in the same place around the same time — the meat-cleaver-wielding suspect apologized to women who’d witnessed the attack, before quickly adding “but in our lands our women have to see the same.”
“You people will never be safe,” the man said. “Remove your government. They don’t care about you. You think (Prime Minister) David Cameron is going to get caught in the street when we start busting our guns? … Get rid of them. Tell them to bring our troops back so we can all live in peace.”
The victim is believed to be a serving soldier who was based at a nearby barracks, Nick Raynsford, a member of Parliament, told CNN. The soldier had apparently been on duty in central London and was returning to the Royal Artillery Barracks in Woolwich when he was attacked, Raynsford said.
Speaking in Paris, Prime Minister David Cameron said there were “strong indications” that the man’s killing was a terrorist incident.
He said he would be returning early from the official trip to handle the situation and will be back in London Wednesday night.
“It is the most appalling crime,” he said alongside French President Francois Hollande, vowing that the United Kingdom will not buckle” in the face of threats to its security.