LONDON -- Two attackers wielding a number of weapons allegedly killed a man in broad daylight on a London street and then were shot by police Wednesday in an incident that may have been terrorism-related.
The assault took place about 2:20 p.m. near a British military barracks. Witnesses called police to say two men carrying various weapons, including machetes and possibly a firearm, had attacked a young man in the community of Woolwich in south London. Unconfirmed reports said the attackers used a car to hit the victim and knock him down before setting on him with bladed weapons.
Officers rushed to the scene and found the victim, who was later pronounced dead. They then shot his two alleged attackers, who have been taken to hospitals for treatment, Commander Simon Letchford of the Metropolitan Police Service said.
Video footage showed the dead man lying on the ground. A vehicle that may have been involved in the attack sat close by.
Although authorities are still investigating, news reports say at least one of the alleged attackers shouted, “God is great!” in Arabic while launching the assault, raising the suggestion the attack was motivated by Islamic extremism.
Prime Minister David Cameron called the incident “shocking,” and Home Secretary Theresa May is convening a meeting of the Cabinet’s emergency committee, indicating high-level concern over the crime.
London Mayor Boris Johnson called the attack “a sickening and unforgivable act of violence” but added “it is really far too early for us to draw conclusions.”
The lawmaker who represents the area where the attack occurred said the dead man was a soldier; Woolwich is home to barracks belonging to the Royal Artillery. But military officials have not confirmed this.
“I would ask people to remain calm and to avoid unnecessary speculation,” Letchford said.
The BBC, citing witness reports, said the attackers filmed their assault.