A man thought to be a British soldier was killed today in what the country's home secretary called a "sickening and barbaric attack" near a military barracks in the Woolwich district of South East London. "A number of weapons were reportedly being used in the attack, and this included reports of a firearm," a police commander said, according to the New York Times. "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."
But one of the suspects appears to have given a video interview first, his bloodied hands holding a cleaver. "We swear by almighty Allah," he exclaims, "we will never stop fighting you."
Warning: The footage is graphic.
"I apologize that women had to witness this today, but in our land our women have to see the same," says the worked-up young man in a beanie and hooded jacket. "You people will never be safe. Remove your governments — they don't care about you."
"The killing in Woolwich is truly shocking — I have asked the Home Secretary to chair a COBRA meeting," tweeted Prime Minister David Cameron in reference to a terrorism response committee. "We will never buckle to terror." London Mayor Boris Johnson added on Twitter, "This afternoon's attack in Woolwich is a sickening deluded and unforgivable act of violence. My thoughts are with the victim and his family."
Despite a lack of solid information so far on the violence, it has already inflamed cultural tensions in the region with the English Defence League, a far-right protest movement "against militant Islam," calling for demonstrations and writing on Facebook, "Our thought must be with the dead soldier and his family, We will never surrender to this SCUM."
The Telegraph reports that witnesses said the attackers shouted "Allahu Akbar" and may have filmed the murder. According to the Guardian, "Several witnesses have described seeing a 'beheading,' while one described seeing a man wearing a Help for Heroes T-shirt being attacked with a machete-style knife and dumped in a south east London street." A man on Twitter claims to have seen everything:
Ohhhhh myyyy God!!!! I just see a man with hishead chopped off right in front of my eyes!— Boya Dee (@BOYADEE) May 22, 2013
Oh my God!!!! The way Feds took them out!!! It was a female police officer she come out the whip and just started bussssin shots!!— Boya Dee (@BOYADEE) May 22, 2013
Mate ive seen alot of shit im my time but that has to rank sumwhere in the top 3. I couldnt believe my eyes. That was some movie shit— Boya Dee (@BOYADEE) May 22, 2013
The two black bredas run this white guy over over then hop out the car and start chopping mans head off with machete!!— Boya Dee (@BOYADEE) May 22, 2013
These times i was just going to the shop for some fruit and veg and i see all that!— Boya Dee (@BOYADEE) May 22, 2013