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Brutal attack in London heightens terror fears

LONDON — In an attack that raised new fears of terrorism in Britain, a man walking near a military barracks in south London on Wednesday was rammed by a car and then hacked to death by two knife-wielding assailants, according to witness accounts carried by British news media.

British officials did not identify the victim, but French President Francois Hollande referred to him as "a soldier" in expressing France's sympathy to visiting British Prime Minister David Cameron, who had been en route to Paris from Brussels when the attack took place.

The two suspects were shot and wounded by the police, officials said, and were in two separate hospitals under police guard, one in serious condition. One of the men shouted "Allahu akbar," or "God is great," as the attack proceeded, government officials said.

Cameron, who interrupted a European tour to return to London on Wednesday night, said at a news conference at the Elysee Palace in Paris that the killing was "an appalling murder" and "absolutely sickening."

"There are strong indications that it is a terrorist incident," Cameron said.

ITV News showed a video taken with a cellphone at the scene in Woolwich in which a man who appears to be in his 20s or early 30s holds a cleaver in one of his bloodied hands. He offers what seems to be a political message before the police arrive.

"I apologize that women had to see this today, but in our lands women have to see the same thing," he says. "You people will never be safe. Remove your governments! They don't care about you." He then referred to what appeared to be a motive for the attack, saying that it had been carried out "because of what's going on in our own countries."

The BBC reported Wednesday night that at least one of the two men had been identified by British security officials as having family origins in Nigeria.

Organizations representing Britain's 2.5 million Muslims were quick to condemn the attack. "No cause justifies this murder," the Muslim Council of Britain said in a statement on behalf of the network of mosques, schools and charities it represents. It described the killing in Woolwich as "a barbaric act that has no basis in Islam," and added that the "vast majority of British Muslims acknowledge the armed forces for the work they do."

With Cameron in France on Wednesday, the home secretary, Theresa May, called an emergency meeting of the Cobra committee, a group of cabinet ministers and high-level security officials that oversees the operations of police and security agencies at times of high security alerts. Officials said the group had ordered a tightening of security around all military barracks in London.

Brutal attack in London heightens terror fears 05/22/13 [Last modified: Thursday, May 23, 2013 12:22am]

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