By: Bill Hoffmann
A man believed to be a British soldier was beheaded and hacked up with a meat cleaver by two men, who were then shot by police in London Wednesday afternoon, authorities say.
The victim was cut up “like a piece of meat,” said one eyewitness to the slaughter, which occurred in broad daylight near an Army barracks.
The shocking slaughter in the Woolwich area of southeast London was being treated as a possible terrorist attack.
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The Times of London reported that one of the attackers screamed “Allahu Akhbar,” Arabic for “God is Great,” as he and an accomplice hacked away at the defenseless victim.
“These two guys were crazed,” the eyewitness told LBC News.
“They were hacking at this poor guy, literally chopping him, cutting him, like it was a piece of meat. We thought they were trying to remove his organs.
“They were oblivious to anything, they were more worried about having their photo taken, running up and down the road. … In my opinion, they were waiting for the police to arrive to be shot.”
Both suspects were taken to a local hospital, one of them in serious condition.
The dead man was said to be wearing a T-shirt for the British military charity “Help for Heroes.” The attack, on normally quiet John Wilson Street, began shortly after 2 p.m. London time.
“One man was being assaulted by two other men,” Metropolitan Police Commander Simon Letchford said.
“Officers … arrived at the scene and found a man who was later pronounced dead. Two men … carrying weapons were shot by police.”
Nick Raynsford, a Labor Party member of Parliament who represents the area where the attack occurred, told Sky News the attack may have started because of a traffic accident, but added that was speculation.
“We will be trying to do everything possible to try and ensure calm in the area,” Raynsford said.
“We think a serving soldier was the victim. … We do know a number of weapons have been seized. They include a gun, various knives, and a machete, apparently.”
Local resident Cheryl Spruce told Sky a nearby school was put into “lockdown.”
“The police were telling us to take an alternative route to get to school. There were police everywhere,” she said.
“There were 30 to 40 police officers … stopping people from walking anywhere. It’s mayhem out there at the moment.”
Prime Minister David Cameron called the bloodbath “truly shocking” and Mayor of London Boris Johnson said it was a “sickening, deluded and unforgivable act of violence.”
The incident occurred close to the Woolwich Barracks in London.
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