Blood filled a busy street in London on Wednesday morning after a pedestrian was hacked and “beheaded” by two men men wielding machete-like knives and boasting allegiance to a virulent form of Islamist extremism. The victim — who has recently been identified — was a serving soldier based at nearby barracks. Now the UK government is treating the violent act as a suspected terrorist attack.
Here are the five fast facts you need to know about this gruesome case.
1. The Victim Was Hacked To Death
According to eye-witness reports, the assailants first hit the man with a car, got out and then hacked the man to death with a machete, a meat cleaver and kitchen knives. The assailants continued to brutally assault the man until he was beheaded.
London-based grime rapper Boya Dee, was an eyewitness, and live-tweeted the entire attack:
Ohhhhh myyyy God!!!! I just see a man with hishead chopped off right in front of my eyes!
— Boya Dee (@BOYADEE) May 22, 2013
The two black bredas run this white guy over over then hop out the car and start chopping mans head off with machete!! — Boya Dee (@BOYADEE) May 22, 2013
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 — Boya Dee (@BOYADEE) May 22, 2013
2. The Two Assailants Are Seriously Injured and in Custody
Around the same time as the attack, it was reported that two men were also shot at and critically wounded. One of them was taken away by an ambulance and the other was airlifted from the scene. Both men are assumed to be the two suspects involved in the stabbing, according to Rainsford’s comments. “Two other individuals who the police regard as suspects were both seriously injured.”
Reports state that a female cop shot one of the men after he charged at her. The other assailant, who had a the gun, an old revolver then attempted to shoot the female cop, his gun backfired and blew his hands off.
BBC has a picture of the second attacker:
3.The Victim of the Attack was Identified as Soldier Lee Rigby
It was difficult to identify the body because of the severity of the mutilations inflicted by the two killers. Today, the victim of the attack was revealed as drummer Lee Rigby. Rigby is 25-years old and is father of a 2 year old boy called Jack. The soldier had spent a year in Cyprus, and served for six months in Afghanistan with the military during one of the most violent periods of the 12-year-long conflict. As stated by The Guardian, Lee Rigby was an ordinary soldier who died in extraordinary circumstances. Rigby was leaving the Woolwich Barracks after a visit before he was attacked.
4. The Suspects Talked to Eye-Witnesses and Were Recorded
iTV managed to get their hands on a videotape where one of the presumed attackers — hands bloodied holding a machete — went on a politics fueled rant about the British government. Here’s what he said, according to The Telegraph:
He says in a London accent: “I apologize that women had to witness that, but in our lands our women have to see the same thing. “You people will never be safe. Remove your Government, they don’t care about you.” He then walks off, still carrying his weapons, back towards the body of the victim who is lying in the middle of the road. In other parts of the video, said to be too shocking to show, it is claimed he says: “This British soldier is an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.”
You can watch the video here or above, but we have to warn you that it’s extremely graphic.
5. UK Prime Minister Thinks This Was A Terrorist Attack
London Mayor: I’m afraid it is overwhelmingly evident that this was a terrorist incident twitter.com/BuzzFeedNews/s…
— BuzzFeed News (@BuzzFeedNews) May 22, 2013
Buzzfeed notes that London Mayor Boris Johnson thinks it’s “overwhelmingly evident” that it was a terrorist attack.
In addition, Prime Minister David Cameron was in Paris during the time of the attacks, and is flying back to London tomorrow, earlier than scheduled due to the gruesome murder in the streets of London. Cameron said, “Police are urgently seeking the full facts about this case but there are strong indications it is a terrorist incident…I’ll be returning to London later tonight so I can chair a Cobra meeting again in the morning. Tonight our thoughts should be with the victim, with their family and their friends. Of course we’ll look at every aspect of security, we look at every aspect of what we can learn from any of these incidents.”
The Queen is concerned about the attacks as well, according to The Telegraph.
A Buckingham Palace spokesman says: “The Queen is of course concerned by the report of an attack in Woolwich earlier today. Her Majesty is being kept informed.”
The suspects apparently attended meetings of banned Islamist group and both men were known to security forces. The two attackers reportedly told a mother-of-two who confronted of them:
We want to start a war in London tonight
The woman, who was trained in first-aid said she went forward to help, her conversation with one of the attackers went:
I asked him if he did it and he said yes and I said why? And he said because he has killed Muslim people in Muslim countries, he said he was a British solider and I said really and he said ‘I killed him because he killed Muslims and I am fed up with people killing Muslims in Afghanistan they have nothing to do there