A man thought to be a British soldier has been killed by Islamist terrorists in a horrific attack in broad daylight in a London street. Two men ran the victim over with a car before hacking him to death with knives and a machete, while shouting “Allahu Akbar.”
The attackers apparently filmed themselves carrying out the killing, and invited stunned bystanders to take photos and video of them posing beside their victim. Video has been aired on ITV news of one of the attackers brandishing a blood-stained machete and shouting at bystanders, as onlookers tried to help the slain man. He’s heard saying “I apologize that women had to witness this today, but in our lands women have to see the same.” Judging by the accent of the man speaking in the video, he’s either British born or has spent some years in the country, making it likely that the terrorists were “home-grown,” rather than from outside the country.
Other news outlets have reported that one of the men said, “We swear by almighty Allah we will never stop fighting you.”
When armed police arrived on the scene (British police officers are not routinely armed), the attackers confronted them with knives a handgun, and both were shot and wounded. They’re now under guard at London hospitals, and it’s not known at this stage whether they acted alone or are part of a larger plot; however, it’s clear that they had no fear of being killed or captured, and may well have intended to be “martyred.”
The attack took place in Woolwich in south-east London at 2.20 p.m. local time. The victim is believed to be a soldier based at the nearby Woolwich barracks, home to elements of the Royal Artillery; he was wearing a T-shirt from the charity Help for Heroes, which raises money for injured British soldiers.
One witness told a London radio station: “These two guys were crazed. They were just animals. They dragged him from the pavement and dumped his body in the middle of the road and left his body there.”
Prime Minister David Cameron is cutting short a visit to France to return to the UK. In a press conference alongside French President Francois Hollande he condemned the “sickening” attack, and said there were “strong indications that it was a terrorist incident.” He added: “We have had these sorts of attacks before in our country, and we will never buckle in the face of them.”
Since the London bus and subway bombings of July 2005 there hasn’t been a significant terrorist attack in the UK. Numerous bomb plots have been foiled, and last summer the London Olympic Games passed without incident, despite widespread fears of terror attacks.
Today’s attack seems to have been designed to generate the maximum outrage, horror, and fear among the British public, with the intention of both inspiring copycat attacks and encouraging reprisal attacks against Muslims in a bid to create a cycle of violence.