The British government’s emergency committee met Thursday after two Muslim terrorists wielding a machete and a cleaver hacked a soldier to death on a busy London street Wednesday while yelling “Allahu Akbar,” in an attack that was caught on video and left the nation shocked and horrified.
Prime Minister David Cameron says there are strong indications it was an act of terrorism, and his top advisers will be examining the potential security implications of the attack, which took place near a London military barracks.
British police confirmed Thursday the man killed at the scene was a serving soldier. They say they believe they know the man’s identity but will not be releasing it at his family’s request.
The alleged attackers waited at the scene until police arrived. The cops shot and wounded both of the men and took them into custody. One attacker, his hands soaked in blood and still holding a machete, delivered an angry jihadist screed as stunned passersby watched, the dead man lying on the street, in the southeast London neighborhood of Woolwich.
“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,” he said in a video clip that was shown on the ITV website. “This British soldier is an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.
“I apologize that women have had to witness this today, but in our land our women have to see the same,” the killer continued. “You people will never be safe. Remove your government, they don’t care about you.”
Witnesses said the attackers shouted “Allahu Akbar,” Arabic for “God is Great,” during the bloody rampage, according to the BBC.
Police said the attackers were taken to separate London hospitals to be treated for their injuries. Live television images of the scene showed a trail of blood on the pavement, cordoned-off streets and crime scene investigators marking the scene as witnesses recounted the harrowing attack.
“These two guys were crazed. They were just animals,” one witness, identified as James, told LBC radio. “They dragged him from the pavement and dumped his body in the middle of the road and left his body there.”
Calling it “an appalling murder,” Cameron said there were “strong indications” it was an act of terrorism, and two other officials said there were signs the attack was motivated by radical Islam.
“Britain has suffered terrorist attacks before, terrorist attacks from the IRA, terrorist attacks from Islamic extremists,” Cameron said Wednesday. “We have suffered these attacks before and we have always beaten them back. We will not be cowed, we will never buckle”
Scotland Yard said officers responded to reports of the assault, which took place just a few blocks from a the Royal Artillery Barracks. The barracks — which house a number of the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery and independent companies of the Grenadier and Coldstream Guards — were the site of shooting events during the 2012 London Olympics.
The Muslim Council of Britain condemned the attack.
“This is a truly barbaric act that has no basis in Islam and we condemn this unreservedly,” the group said in a statement. “Our thoughts are with the victim and his family. We understand the victim is a serving member of the Armed Forces.”