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Woolwich terrorist attack as it happened: Soldier dead and two suspects injured
Updated 1:18pm Thursday 6th June 2013 in News
This live event has finished
- WARNING: Graphic content in pictures below
- Incident now treated as terrorist attack
- Police and ambulances called to Woolwich after reported shooting and machete attack
- Witnesses claim to have seen police shoot two men, one of whom was holding two meat cleavers in his hand
- London Ambulance Service have confirmed one man has died. Victim reported to be British serviceman
- Two further men have been taken to hospital with serious injuries
- Meeting of government's emergency response committee Cobra held
- Police ask people to remain calm
- Email your photos of the scene to firstname.lastname@example.org
- Did you see what happened? Call the newsroom on 01689 885726.
Read the Government's official response to today's horrific events....
We are now wrapping up our live blog for today. Thanks for your time following and reading this on what has been a shocking afternoon in south-east London.
We'll be back first thing tomorrow morning with all the latest news and reactions in the aftermath of this incident.
Whitehall announces tightened security around Woolwich and other military barracks.
A man thought to be the second suspect in the Woolwich attack.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) has released a statement about the investigation into the incident.
Deputy chair Deborah Glass said: “The IPCC has begun an independent investigation in to the circumstances surrounding the shooting of two men by the Metropolitan Police Service in Woolwich south London, today Wednesday 22 May.
“We were notified of an incident by the MPS at 2.50pm. This was declared an independent investigation and investigators were deployed immediately.
“A Commissioner has been appointed to lead the investigation and twelve IPCC investigators are currently at the scene, viewing CCTV footage and attending the post incident procedure.
“The Metropolitan Police Service is investigating the death of one man and the IPCC is investigating the shooting of two men by police officers.
“We would like to reassure the Woolwich community and wider public that our investigation will be both thorough and robust.
“Anyone who was in the vicinity of Wellington Street at the junction with John Wilson Street, Woolwich, is urged to contact the IPCC by email on Woolwich@ipcc.gsi.gov.uk or using freephone 08000 969071.”
RT @jadaface101: Woolwich is a strong community we have had things like this in the past it will only bring us closer. my thoughts are with the loved ones x— @Emily_gott 22 May 2013
The French President François Hollande has given his support to the UK after the earlier ‘terrorist attack’ in Woolwich.
Speaking at a joint press conference with Prime Minister David Cameron in Paris he said: “I would like to express all of my solidarity to David Cameron and the UK after the murder of a British soldier in London earlier today.
“We must fight terrorism everywhere.”
Footage obtained by ITV News showing a man with bloodied hands supposedly at the scene of the Woolwich attack addressing a camera.
WARNING: Video contains disturbing content
Nick Clegg: “A shocking and horrifying attack. This afternoon witnessed a tragedy on the streets of our capital” #Woolwich— @DPMoffice 22 May 2013
Ahmed Jama, 26, laid flowers in Wellington Street.
He said: "As a local citizen I feel obliged to do so and to pay my respects to the victim and his family.
"Im obviously aware of what happened today and who is claiming to have, there is someone claiming to be from my religion, I feel very obliged to so the least that I can do which is to bring these flowers.
"I don’t know how to say it, but this is nothing to do with Islam.
"This is nothing to do with Allah-screaming Allah-hu-Akbar and killing people, innocent people.
"It is heartbreaking."
The police cordon
David Cameron: "Of course we wil look at ever aspect of security and every aspect of what you can learn from these incidents.
"The best way to defeat terrrorism to continue to go about your life and live your life and show that terrorists can never win."
Nicholas Flook, 54 of Jim Bradley Close, Woolwich, said: “We have never been concerned at all about living in Woolwich and there’s no fear in any way shape or form of terrorism.
“We can’t give in to people that want to restrict our way of life.
“The spirit of this area is so strong.
“There are so many nations living together happy to carry on without any problems.”
David Cameron: "It is the most appalling crime.
"There are strong indcations that it is a terrorist incident.
"I will be returning to London later tonight.
"Tonight our thoughts should be with the victim and their family.
"People across Britain and in every community will utterly condemn this attack.
"We have had this sort of attack before in our country and we never buckle in the face of them."
RT @kentpoliceroads: Thoughts and condolences go out to the victim and the family of the horrific murder in #woolwich.— @pana_tonic 22 May 2013
A video has been posted online of a man with bloodied hands, supposedly speaking at the scene.
He said: “I apologise that women had to witness this today but in our land our women have to see the same.
“You people will never be safe.
“Remove your governments, they don’t care about you.”
Home secretary Theresa May said: "I have been briefed by the Metropolitan Police Commissioner and the Director General of the Security Service.
"It has been confirmed to me that a man has been brutally murdered this afternoon in south-east London. Two other men were shot by armed police and they are currently receiving treatment for their injuries.
"I have called a COBR (Cabinet Office Briefing Room) meeting where I will receive further briefing. This is a sickening and barbaric attack."
David Cameron described the attack as "truly shocking".
Downing Street said the Prime Minister, who was planning to stay in Paris overnight after meeting the French president, would be returning on Wednesday night instead.
The cordon in John Wilson Street
Traffic around John Wilson Street still being affected after the incident this afternoon. Latest travel news here
Temisan Egba, watched the aftermath of the attack from her flat window in John Wilson Street.
She told News Shopper: “I saw the police come and the air ambulance landing on the street.
“I saw him flat down on the floor and I couldn’t see if he was dead or alive.
“The air ambulance air lifted one of the victims to hospital.
“I saw another man being put on a stretcher.
“From the look of things he was alive. He had a dark complexion.”
Scene of Woolwich 'terror incident'
This picture of a man with bloodied hands and carrying a knife and what looks like a meat cleaver has been published by ITV News.
According to the broadcaster he made a series of political statements and said: “We swear by almighty Allah we will never stop fighting you.”
Still dominating the UK trending topics on Twitter.
FATHER of four Graham Wilders, 50, saw what he thought was a car crash while driving home to Charles Grinling Walk at 2.19pm.
Mr Wilders, who had a son at school nearby, said he saw a crashed car and someone was shouting to call the police or ambulance.
He said: “It looked like it crashed. We drove home and parked in my garage but we were just going towards where the accident was and the next minute the geezer in the little silver car and the lorry, the black geezer pulled the hand gun out – waving it about.”
He said a group of school children were nearby.
He said: “I shouted out to them ‘get the kids in the school now because there’s a bloke up there with a hand gun’
“All I was concerned about was the kids getting into the school quickly.”
He added: “I was pretty nervous. I didn’t know what he was going to do with the handgun.”
Mr Wilders said another man had a knife.
He said: “He had a knife but I didn’t really see him because he was round the corner so I don’t know what else he was doing.
“When I was talking to the police a geezer pulled up in the silver car he said he called the police. The next minute they apparently drove the car at him.
“All I thought was they had a crash and they were trying to revive him.”
Mr Wilders said he did not hear anyone shouting Allahu Akbar.
The next minute, the black geezer dressed all in black pulled the hand gun out from behind his back where his trousers were and he was waving his gun about.
“Me and my wife moved back towards my back gate at the end of my road between where the flats were – there was a bunch of school kids come up.
Mr Wilders said it looked like the car had crashed and, after he parked his car, he walked back to find out what was happened.
He said: “I don’t know that. When he pulled the gun out, I didn’t hear anything. I didn’t hear anything like that.”
“I couldn’t even tell you what he looked like. All I know is he was dressed all in black and he was the one who had a black hand gun, because I could see the black hand gun, that’s how close I was to the black hand gun."
Home secretary Theresa May says Woolwich incident is "sickening and barbaric", and she has been briefed by the director general of the security service MI5,
Greenwich Council leader Councillor Chris Roberts said: “We are deeply shocked by today’s events by the Barracks in Woolwich and our thoughts are with the family of the victim.
“Greenwich is a borough whose history and evolution is intertwined with military, both army and navy and any attack by the Barracks feels like a strike at the heart of our community.
“The council will assist the police with their investigations and provide any support requested of us.”
Shocked by appalling events in Woolwich. Whole country will be horrified by what has happened.— @Ed_Miliband 22 May 2013
Commander Simon Letchford speaking to reporters outside Plumstead Police Station.
This afternoon's attack in Woolwich is a sickening deluded and unforgivable act of violence. My thoughts are with the victim and his family— @MayorofLondon 22 May 2013
Commander Simon Letchford, speaking in Woolwich tonight, said:
"I am here to give you an update about the incident that has unfolded here in Woolwich this afternoon and to give you further details of the situation and an outline of the facts as we understand them at this time.
"This is at a very early stage and as such I will provide you with what information I am able to.
"At approx 1420 we were called to reports of an assault in John Wilson Street, Woolwich where one man was being assaulted by two other men. "
"A number of weapons were reportedly being used in the attack, and this included reports of a firearm.
"Officers including local Greenwich officers arrived at the scene and shortly after firearms officers arrived on the scene.
"On their arrival at the scene they found a man, who was later pronounced dead.
"At this early stage I am unable to provide any further information about the man who has died.
"Two men, who we believe from early reports to have been carrying weapons, were shot by police.
"They were taken to separate London hospitals, they are receiving treatment for their injuries.
"I can understand that this incident will cause community concerns, and I would like to reiterate that we are investigating what has taken place today.
"The MPS will investigate the circumstances that led to a man to lose his life and the IPCC, as is routine, will investigate the circumstances in which police discharged their weapons.
"There will continue to be an increased police presence in this area, and the surrounding areas this evening.
"That presence will continue as long as is needed.
"I am asking people to remain calm, and avoid unnecessary speculation.
"I will update you again as soon as I am in a position to do so."
News Shopper understands the incident is now being treated as a terrorist attack.
The incident occurred some 200 yards from the Royal Artillery Barracks, adjacent to Woolwich Common, the historical home of the Royal Artillery. The barracks, also known as the Woolwich station, now houses a number of the King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery and independent companies of the Grenadier and Coldstream Guards. Woolwich Common remains a designated military training area.
PM: "The killing in #Woolwich is truly shocking – I have asked the Home Secretary to chair a COBRA meeting"— @Number10gov 22 May 2013
We are hearing home secretary Theresa May is calling a meeting of the government's emergency response committee Cobra after the Woolwich incident.
Jason Mills, 24 of John Wilson Street, Woolwich, said: “I just saw lots of blood and two blokes lying on the floor.
“The police covered up the person who had his head cut off. Madness.
“It’s shocking to live around the corner. It’s not nice.
“To know this is happening in the area – it could happen to me, it could happen to one of my family.”
Pic of the scene by reporter Mark Chandler
WARNING - VIDEO CONTAINS GRAPHIC CONTENT
There are unconfirmed reports of a car accident being involved.
Mr Mann, who manages Mann Food and Wine shop in Frances Street, said: "I heard the victim, a soldier, went to help some people who were in a car accident and they got out and butchered him up.
"This is what customers have told me although I have been told a lot of different things - it's not clear exactly what happened."
Tina Conley, 23, of John Wilson Street, has told News Shopper: "At the moment John Wilson Street is still shut off, so is Wellington Street. All the traffic is being diverted around Sainsbury's."
One witness, identified as James, said he and his partner saw two black men attack a young man aged around 20 in a Help for Heroes T-shirt with kitchen knives like he was "a piece of meat".
He told LBC Radio: "They were hacking at this poor guy, literally.
"They were hacking at him, chopping him, cutting him.
"These two guys were crazed. They were just animals. They dragged him from the pavement and dumped his body in the middle of the road and left his body there."
He said that after the "horrendous" attack, the two men, in their 20s, just stood around, waving knives and a gun, even asking people nearby to take pictures of them "as if they wanted to be on TV or something".
He continued: "They were oblivious to anything, they were more worried about having their photo taken, running up and down the road.
"They had no intention of running off or leaving or anything. In my opinion, they were waiting for the police to arrive to be shot by the police. That's the only thing I can think. It's horrendous what they were doing to that guy."
Some "brave" women tried to shield the man on the ground from them, he added.
He also said that it was 20 minutes before armed police arrived at the scene.
"When the armed police came flying around the corner, the man with the beanie hat, the tall guy, he charged at the police vehicle.
"A shot was fired by the other guy with the gun. Six shots were fired, both men went down and we now know they are dead as well."
Several witnesses have described seeing a "beheading" while another described seeing a man wearing a Help for Heroes T-shirt being attacked with a machete-style knife
Woolwich and Greenwich MP Nick Raynsford said it was his understanding that one person, a serving soldier, was dead and his two alleged killers were taken to hospital.
Mr Raynsford said he had spoken to both borough commander Richard Wood and Lieutenant Colonel Bob Christopher at Woolwich Barracks.
He said: "The incident occurred early afternoon. One individual is dead, two others are seriously injured and in hospital. The circumstances causing the incident are not yet clear. It's been suggested it was the product of a road traffic accident, but that's pure speculation. I'll be talking to everyone who is involved, we will be trying to do everything possible to try and ensure calm in the area. People will be very, very shocked. We think a serving soldier was the victim. We don't know the circumstances surrounding the incident. We do know a number of weapons have been seized. They include a gun, various knives, and a machete, apparently. The police clearly had to take action in order to try and arrest these individuals."
Christian preacher Josh Williamson, who lives about half a mile from the incident, said: "The first I heard about was on Twitter.
"I think the act was completely horrible and wicked.
"As a Christian I would state that the underlying reason for this occurring is because the heart of man is sinful and that is why the Christian gospel is important, as Christ provides the solution for a sinful heart.”
Mahir Ozdemir who works at Jim’s Fish Bar in Frances Street said he knew the victim.
He said: “It’s really shocking.
“We heard the man who is dead was one of the soldiers from the barracks - we knew him and he used to come in here all the time, he was on this street yesterday.
“I think he had two kids as well, it’s really sad.”
Eye-witness Clare Foran, 34, was driving from Tesco to her home in John Wilson Street with her husband Nigel when she saw a man lying on the floor.
She told News Shopper: “We thought he had been on run over. Then we saw two black blokes, one with what looked like a screwdriver. They started running down the road as if they were going to go for the police and the police shot them.
"I thought it was a stungun. But obviously not.
“I ducked down – it was like something out of the movies. We managed to drive past but there were loads of cars stuck.
“There was lots of shouting and everyone started to run away.”
Woolwich is the sixth highest trending topic on Twitter in the UK right now.
Ahmed Arslanboga who manages cafe Kebab Ye in nearby Frances Street said: “A woman came in to see us and she was so scared about what had happened, really frightened. There are so many police around.
“We’ve been running for 31 years and there has always been a lot of violence here.”
Statement from the The Independent Police Complaints Commission:
The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) has been made aware by Metropolitan Police Service of an incident in Woolwich, south London. IPCC investigators have been deployed to the scene and to the post-incident process.
The IPCC has declared this as an independent investigation.
A London Air Ambulance spokeswoman said: "Our doctors and paramedics attended and treated patients – one was airlifted, one was transferred by land ambulance.”
A London Ambulance spokeswoman said: "One patient, a man, was pronounced dead at the scene.
"Staff treated two other men, who have been taken to hospital.
"One of them is in a serious condition."
Traffic around Woolwich being affected by the police incident - latest news here
Leila Salih said her friend saw a head in the street.
The 24-year-old added: "It's disgusting - kids are going to school here."
It is thought to have happened near Mulgrave Primary School in Rectory Place.
One witness in Woolwich says she saw at least one man armed with meat cleavers. Another with a gun.— @Mark_Chandler 22 May 2013
Julia Wilders, 51, of Charles Grinling Walk, Woolwich said: “I saw some blokes trying to resuscitate another man on the floor.
“We walked down to have a look and we saw a black bloke walking up there with a gun.
“Another bloke had two meat cleavers in his hand.
“A response team turned up.
“One of the blokes ran to the police car with the meat cleaver and they shot him.
“And then they shot the other one.”
An anonymous caller, who lives in nearby Calderwood Street, says he heard gun shots from his ninth-floor flat around 2.15pm and can now see police searching in bushes.
He added that he has just seen an incident tent being erected in Wellington Street.
Twitter user Boya Dee writes an account of the incident online. These details have not yet been verified.
He wrote: 'Ohhhhh myyyy God!!!! I just see a man with his head chopped off right in front of my eyes!
'Oh my God!!!! The way Feds took them out!!! It was a female police officer she come out the whip and just started bussssin shots!!
'Mate ive seen alot of s*** im my time but that has to rank sumwhere in the top 3. I couldnt believe my eyes. That was some movie s***.'
The two black bredas run this white guy over over then hop out the car and start chopping mans head off with machete!!
'People were asking whyyy whyyy they were just saying we've had enough! They looked like they were on sutn! Then they start waving a recolver
'Then boydem turn up!! Woolwich feds didnt want it... They had to wait for armed response.. Helicopters everyting...
'Then thats how u know they were on sutn cos they actually went for armed feds with just two machete and an old rusty lookin revolver
'The first guy goes for the female fed with the machete and she not even ramping she took man out like robocop never seen nutn like it
'Then the next breda try buss off the rusty 45 and it just backfires and blows mans finger clean off... Feds didnt pet to just take him out!!
'These times i was just going to the shop for some fruit and veg and i see all that!'
Pub worker Sam, who works in the Dial Arch pub in nearby The Warren said: "We heard rumours someone got attacked by an axe then the axe wielder got shot dead.
"I’m surprised at the severity of the incident but not that there’s been an incident because it is Woolwich.
"The severity of the incident has surprised me."
The news from Twitter on #Woolwich is more informative than the mainstream news (News Shopper excepted). However... unsubstantiated.— @nat_mach 22 May 2013
A London Air Ambulance spokeswoman said: "We were called today at 2.20pm. to reports of an incident at John Wilson Street, SE18.
"We sent two responders in cars, three ambulance crews, two duty officers and London Air Ambulance to the scene.
“We still have staff on scene.”
Woolwich looks like a War Zone! Stay away @NewsShopper @SkyNews @RT_com— @RealHitmanHarry 22 May 2013
One man working in nearby Woolwich New Road told the News Shopper: "All I heard was a couple of people had been shot.
"It was about an hour or so ago.
"I heard they were trying to behead someone and were shot by police."
Pure chaos in Woolwich— @abbsStaaar 22 May 2013
Officers respond to reports of an assault on John Wilson St, Greenwich. Updates to follow— @metpoliceuk 22 May 2013
Very few details on the Woolwich incident confirmed so far but some horrific 'reports' on Twitter so far.
India 99 is now assisting @MPSGreenwich with a serious incident in the Thamesmead area.— @MPSinthesky 22 May 2013
A Met Police spokesman says officers have responded to an incident in John Wilson Street after being called at about 2.20pm.
He said: “We believe at this stage officers were called to an assault.”
Picture: The Woolwich Community Page on Facebook.
Picture: Yusuf_Kayalar on Twitter.
Picture: KingAdeIV on Twitter.
Picture: M_ATLEY on Twitter.
Picture: THEORIGINALMB on Twitter.
We are currently gathering information on a reported shooting in Woolwich this afternoon. We will bring you details as soon as we know what has happened.
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