An attack in broad daylight in London on Wednesday is drawing a swift response — and a possible terror link — from the highest authorities. Reports suggest two men chased down another man with their car before getting out, attacking him with a machete, and dragging him through the city streets.
One person is dead and two are injured after the attack, which happened in the middle of a Woolwich neighborhood street filled with eyewitnesses Wednesday afternoon. BBC political correspondent Norman Smith reports the government sources say it's "a fair supposition" the incident was a terrorist attack. One unnamed eyewitness told the BBC she saw a man being a chased by a car while walking her dog. "The car then screeched to a halt and two men got out one had some kind of sword," she said. They swung the sword, which multiple reports have suggested was a machete, at the man's head. Woolwich and Greenwich MP Nick Raynsford said the victim was believed to be a serving member of the military. The Guardian says there's a barracks about 400 meters from where the attack took place. Other government sources told the BBC's political editor Nick Robinson the men were shouting "Allahu Akbar" and were trying to record the attack. Police officers on the scene shot and subdued the two men before shutting down the surrounding area. They're now being treated for serious injuries at an undisclosed hospital. Police officers collected multiple knives and a gun from the scene of the crime.
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Another eyewitness provided another gruesome take to the local radio station LBC: "These two guys were crazy, they just were not there, they were just animals. They dragged the poor guy — he was obviously dead, there was no way a human could take what they did to him. They dragged him from the pavement and dumped his body in the middle of the road and left his body there."
There was also this eyewitness account being passed around on Twitter (read from the bottom up):
In a statement, Prime Minister David Cameron called the attack "truly shocking." The Guardian reports the UK's emergency Cobra committee are meeting to discuss the alleged terrorist attack. The committee only meets for the most serious emergencies. Cameron is cutting a scheduled trip to France short and returning to London tomorrow to chair the meeting.
"The circumstances causing the incident are not yet clear. It's been suggested it was the product of a road traffic accident, but that's pure speculation," Woolwich MP Raynsford told reporters. "We think a serving soldier was the victim. We don't know the circumstances surrounding the incident." The Ministry of Defense has not confirmed anything about the victim's identity yet.
London's ITV obtained video of a man holding what appears to be a butcher knife and a machete with blood-soaked hands speaking into a street camera. He makes "a series of political statements," while speaking directly into the camera. "We swear by almighty Allah we will never stop fighting you," he says at one point. We warn you — this is not for the faint of heart:
Update, 5:58 p.m.: This picture started to make the rounds Wednesday afternoon showing someone's "mum" standing up to the one of the attackers, who is holding a very long, very threatening knife:
My mum is a motherfucking badass twitter.com/SiibillamLaw/s…— Basil Baradaran (@SiibillamLaw) May 22, 2013
She rightfully being labeled a hero because, really, look at that knife. So the Telegraph went out and found Loyau-Kennett, the 48-year-old mother of two and cub scout leader in that picture. "Being a cub leader I have my first aid so when I saw this guy on the floor I thought it was an accident then I saw the guy was dead and I could not feel any pulse," she told the Telegraph. Once the attacker came over to her she realized he was not drunk or high, but their conversation was distracting him from noticing the crowd gathering around them. She distracted him for as long as she could, asking about what they had just done, and why. And then this happened:
I said 'right now it is only you versus many people, you are going to lose, what would you like to do?’ and he said I would like to stay and fight.”
She is the shining light of humanity in the middle of this awful story.
Speaking of awful, right wing activists in the English Defense League are clashing with police in Woolwich right now. They arranged for members to meet over social media in the neighborhood where the attack took place. They plan to "tell the religion of peace we don't need them here." They want to tell the Muslims to take a hike. Some are even throwing bottles at the riot police attempting to contain them.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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