A man was hacked to death in a street near an army barracks in London on Wednesday in what Prime Minister David Cameron said appeared to be a politically motivated attack.
The victim was a British soldier killed in broad daylight by unidentified assailants who tried to behead him while shouting "God is greatest" in Arabic, media reports said. Soon after the attack, two men carrying weapons were shot and wounded by police. Cameron cut short a visit to France to return to London and chair an emergency national security meeting. "It is the most appalling crime," Cameron said in Paris.
Britain is investigating a possible Nigerian link to attackers suspected of hacking a soldier to death in London while shouting Islamic slogans, two sources with knowledge of the investigation told Reuters on condition of anonymity.
Two suspects have been taken into custody after the attack, which the British government said appeared to be an act of terrorism. Police have not identified the suspects.
The sources, speaking independently, said a Nigerian link was being investigated but gave no further details about the nature of the link.
French President Francois Hollande and British Prime Minister David Cameron on Wednesday condemned the assassination of a British soldier in the suburbs of London after their meeting in Paris.
Speaking at the press conference following talks with Hollande, the British prime minister condemned the attack as a "most appalling crime" which appeared to be terror-related.
rench President Hollande, for his part, expressed "full solidarity" with British leaders and the people, while stressing the need to fight against terrorism.
The man could have been refering to Afghanistan, where British troops are part of the international force supporting the Kabul government in its fight against Taleban insurgents.
London was last hit by a serious militant attack in July 2005, when four young Islamists set off suicide bombs on the public transport network, killing 52 people and wounding hundreds. A similar attempted attack two weeks later was thwarted. British counter-terrorism chiefs have recently warned that radicalised individuals, so-called "lone wolves" who might have had no direct contact with al Qaeda posed as great a risk as those who plotted attacks on the lines of the 2005 attacks.
Local residents expressed shock at Wednesday's killing. "That this can happen in the centre of a busy town, it's really really shocking and traumatising for everybody, all local residents," a witness who gave her name as Tenisan told Reuters in a nearby street.
Ahmed Jama, a 26-year-old resident, laid flowers down at the scene as a sign of respect to the families involved. "This has nothing to do with Islam, this has nothing to do with our religion. This has nothing to do with Allah," he said "It has nothing to do with Islam.
It's heartbreaking, it's heartbreaking." A number of weapons were reportedly being used in the attack, including a firearm, police said. Security has been tightened at all London barracks. Home Secretary Theresa May said in a statement: "This is a sickening and barbaric attack." Cameron cut short talks with French President Francois Hollande to return home. "We have had these sorts of attacks before in our country and we never buckle in the face of them," he said.