British news media outlets reported that the victim was a British soldier wearing the shirt of Help for Heroes, a charity that helps British service members injured in combat. Neither Scotland Yard nor government officials immediately confirmed the 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 a nearby army barracks.
Britain immediately moved to increase security around various military installations. Meanwhile, Britons were shocked 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 in the video, 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.”
According to the TV network, in a segment of the film that was not broadcast, the man also says, “We swear by almighty Allah we will never stop fighting you.”
Speaking in Paris, Cameron said there were “strong indications that this is a terrorist incident.” He was poised to chair a national security meeting Thursday morning.
“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.”
British authorities were scrambling to ascertain whether the men had acted alone, whether they were homegrown militants or whether they were associated with overseas Islamist extremist groups. Britain, the leading U.S. ally in Afghanistan, has confronted several terrorism plots and has launched a national program aimed at de-radicalizing youths who are at risk. In February, three men from Birmingham were convicted in a courthouse near the site of Wednesday’s attack of plotting suicide bombings to rival the deadly 2005 blasts.