UK official: London attack could be terror-related

9:41 PM, May 22, 2013   |    comments
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LONDON (USA TODAY) -- Two men armed with a machete, guns and other weapons attacked and killed a bystander -- possibly a soldier -- on a street in South London on Wednesday in what officials are treating as a terrorist-related assault.

The shocking attack, captured on video by onlookers, ended with one of the assailants, brandishing a cleaver and a knife in his blood-soaked hands, looking into one camera to deliver a statement filled with jihadist-rhetoric.

"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. This British soldier is an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth," he says.

Both attackers then waited calmly by the body in the street until police arrived and shot both of them. The pair were hospitalized, one reportedly in serious condition, the BBC reported.

British Prime Minister David Cameron. who cut short a visit to Paris to return to London, called the attack "truly shocking" and said there are "strong indications" that a brutal attack in London is terror-related.

A the news conference in Paris, Cameron said "Britain has suffered terrorist attacks before, terrorist attacks from the IRA, terrorist attacks from Islamic extremists."

He added, "We have suffered these attacks before and we have always beaten them back."

Home Secretary Theresa May called a meeting of the government's emergency response committee Cobra to assess the incident. She said she had been briefed by Britain's domestic security service, MI5, and by police on what she called a "sickening and barbaric" attack

The Guardian newspaper quoted police as saying the man who died suffered knife injuries, possibly to the head. The BBC quoted a local member of parliament as saying the dead man was a soldier.

The attack took place in Woolrich, an area of South London, near the Royal Artillery Barracks, which houses a number of the King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery and independent companies of the Grenadier and Coldstream Guards.

On the video, broadcast by ITV News, the attack also says in a London accent:"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."

A number of weapons, including a gun, knives, and a machete, were seized at the scene.

One witness, identified by the BBC only as James, said two men had attacked another man, aged about 20, who was wearing a T-shirt of military charity Help for Heroes.

In a statement, London's Metropolitan Police asked residents of the southeast London community to "remain calm, and avoid unnecessary speculation" while the investigation got underway.

Speaking to ITV News, Boris Johnson, London's mayor, described the attack as a "sickening and unforgivable act of violence."

Cassandra Vinograd and Paisley Dodds

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