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Cameron says ‘strong indications’ London murder was terrorism

Two assailants hacked a man to death on a busy southeast London street yesterday before delivering a rant about Islam to bystanders, leading Prime Minister David Cameron to cut short a diplomatic trip in Paris to deal with what he described as a likely terrorist attack.

If confirmed as an act of terrorism, it would mark the first fatality from such an attack in Britain since 52 people were killed in four coordinated suicide bombings targeting London’s transit system on July 7, 2005. Both suspects in yesterday’s attack – who made no attempt to escape and shouted statements at bystanders while they waited for authorities to arrive – were wounded by the police while being taken into custody and were being treated at local hospitals. At least one of the men was in serious condition.

British media outlets reported that the victim was a British soldier wearing the shirt of the Help for Heroes charity that aids British service members injured in combat. Neither Scotland Yard nor government officials immediately confirmed those reports, but Nick Raynsford, a legislator from the Woolwich neighborhood where the attack occurred, told the BBC that the man killed was a soldier serving at nearby army barracks.

Britain immediately moved last night to increase security around various military barracks. In the meantime, shocked Britons were gripped by snippets of videos filmed by bystanders. One amateur video obtained by London’s ITV television showed one of the alleged assailants – a man holding two bloody blades and whose hands appear to be covered with blood – shouting in English.

“There are many, many ayah throughout the Koran,” the man says, referring to religious verses, “that says we must fight them as they fight us, an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. I apologize that women had to witness this today but in our land women have to see the same. You people will never be safe. Remove your government, they don’t care about you.”

Speaking in Paris, Cameron said there were “strong indications that this is a terrorist incident.” He was poised to lead a meeting of Britain’s national security committee on today following an attack he called “sickening.”

“The killing in Woolwich is truly shocking,” Cameron said, later adding, “we’ve had these sorts of attacks before in our country and we will never buckle in the face of them.”

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