Woolwich: ‘Soldier Dead After Terror Attack’
A man reported to be a serving soldier has been hacked to death in Woolwich, south east London, in what is being treated as a terrorist attack.
Dozens of weapons – including a number of knives – and pools of blood could be seen on the ground in John Wilson Street, where a man said to be wearing a Help for Heroes T-shirt was attacked by two men.
Witnesses say the pair appeared to deliberately drive their car at the victim, before getting out with various bladed weapons and launching their attack.
As the victim lay motionless in the middle of the road, witnesses say they heard the pair chanting “Allahu akbar” – and inviting passers-by to take photographs of them.
As soon as armed police arrived at the scene, witnesses say at least one of the alleged attackers began approaching the officers – who opened fire and shot the pair. The men were taken to separate hospitals with gunshot wounds.
Prime Minister David Cameron described the incident as “shocking and horrifying” and said there were “strong indications that it is a terrorist incident”.
He told a news conference in Paris that Britain had previously faced terror attacks such as the one in Woolwich, adding: “We will never buckle in the face of it.”
He has cut short a trip to Paris and arrived back in London to attend a Thursday morning meeting of the Government’s Cobra emergency committee – which had convened in the hours after the incident on Wednesday afternoon.
Video has emerged that appears to show one of two alleged attackers – with blood-stained hands and holding two bladed weapons – attempting to justify the attack.
“I apologise that women had to witness this today, but in our lands our women have to see the same,” he said.
Photographs taken at the scene show three people lying on the ground. Their condition was not clear. A car that appeared to have crashed on the pavement could also be seen.
Officials wearing full army uniform were seen entering Plumstead Police Station this evening and confirmed they were there in connection with the case.
The Metropolitan Police confirmed one person had died following the incident and said officers from the counter terrorist unit were leading the investigation
The Independent Police Complaints Commission will also investigate the police’s role in the incident, which is standard practice in cases where armed police fire their weapons.
Met commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, said: ”On the streets of London, a terrible murder has occurred.
“We ask that people give us the opportunity to thoroughly investigate this crime, to make sure we get to the bottom of who committed it and why.”
Commander Simon Letchford, also from the Met, said officers were called to the road at 2.20pm.
“One man was being assaulted by two other men,” he said.
“A number of weapons were reportedly being used in the attack, and this included reports of a firearm.
“Officers including local Greenwich officers arrived at the scene and shortly after firearms officers arrived on the scene.
“On their arrival at the scene they found a man, who was later pronounced dead. At this early stage I am unable to provide any further information about the man who has died.
“Two men, who we believe from early reports to have been carrying weapons, were shot by police. They were taken to separate London hospitals, they are receiving treatment for their injuries.”
Nigel Foran, who saw the incident as he returned home from shopping, described a scene of confusion.
He told Sky News: “We saw a man running towards the police officers and then we heard a couple of gunshots.
“He went to the floor and was surrounded while officers drew their stun guns. After that, all the people who were watching ran away when they heard the gunshots.”
The Ministry of Defence said it was urgently looking at the reports that the incident involved a soldier.
Greenwich and Woolwich MP Nick Raynsford had earlier told Sky News he believed the deceased was a serving soldier.
He said he had spoken to both borough commander Richard Wood and Lieutenant Colonel Bob Christopher at Royal Artillery Barracks – which is around a mile from the scene of the attack.
“We think a serving soldier was the victim. We don’t know the circumstances surrounding the incident.”
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.”
Schools in the area were placed on lockdown.
Mayor of London Boris Johnson posted on his Twitter account: “This afternoon’s attack in Woolwich is a sickening deluded and unforgivable act of violence.”
:: Police have issued an appeal for anyone who has still or moving images of the incident to send them to:
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