As it happened - Woolwich attack

Key Points

  • Police called to 'frenzied machete attack' in Woolwich, south-east London, in which one man, reported to be a soldier, died
  • Incident now being treated by the government as a suspected terrorist attack, says the BBC's Nick Robinson
  • Reports suggest a man was attacked in the street by two individuals who were later shot by officers
  • Video footage emerges showing a man wielding a bloodied meat cleaver and making political statements
  • Home Secretary Theresa May chaired a meeting of Cobra, the government's emergency response committee, describing the attack as "sickening and barbaric"
  1.  
    1609:

    Police are responding to reports of a "serious incident" in Woolwich, south London.

    Initial reports suggest a man has been attacked, and pictures posted on Twitter appear to show three people lying on the ground.

    Scotland Yard said the incident took place in John Wilson Street, at 14:20 BST.

     
  2.  
    1611:

    Police said they were called to reports of an "assault".

    London Ambulance Service said an air ambulance and four crews were at the scene.

    Police say the area around John Wilson Street has been shut down.

     
  3.  
    1613:

    Posts on Twitter claim one man was attacked with a machete, but police have not confirmed this.

     
  4.  
    1615:

    Firearms officers are at the scene and a cordon has now been established.

     
  5.  
    1617:

    Local primary school head teacher David Dixon tells the BBC News Channel he saw a body in the road and "there were gun shots after that".

    He instructed staff to lock all the gates of his school and an air ambulance landed in the playground.

    Most of the children have now gone home. Mr Dixon said everything inside the school was "calm and orderly".

     
  6.  
    1620:

    Eyewitnesses say two men attacked another man with a "machete-style knife".

    Reports also suggests shots were fired, although details are not yet clear.

     
  7.  
    1623:

    A witness claims two men in a car ran over another man, then got out of the car and attacked him, the BBC's Matt Prodger reports.

    It is claimed the victim was wearing a Help for Heroes charity T-shirt, but this has not been confirmed.

     
  8.  
    1623:

    Local MP Nick Raynsford says one person has been killed in the incident and two others have been seriously injured.

     
  9.  
    1627:

    Local MP Mr Raynsford says a soldier serving at a nearby Army barracks has died in the incident.

     
  10.  
    1629:

    Mr Raynsford tells BBC Radio 5 Live: "What I have heard from both the borough commander and the station commander of the barracks indicate this was a serious incident involving a number of weapons including firearms.

    "I am told that one of the individuals involved in the incident... is a soldier serving in the Army in the barracks."

     
  11.  
    1632:

    Whitehall officials say the incident in Woolwich is not connected to any intelligence-led operation, BBC security correspondent Frank Gardner reports.

     
  12.  
    Thomas

    contacted the BBC. He was at the scene. This is what he said: "I got there minutes after it happened because you could hear gun shots from Woolwich high street, basically two men carried out an axe attack on a young army cadet walking along the street, by the looks of things the police responded and then shot them in front of the public, at the same time I couldn't really tell if the cadet was fatally or not hurt as police were crowded around him."

     
  13.  
    1636:

    London Ambulance Service confirms one man was found dead at the scene.

     
  14.  
    1641:
    An aerial shot of the crime scene Police have cordoned off the scene in Woolwich

    Two injured men have been taken away from the scene, and London Ambulance Service says one is in a "serious" condition.

     
  15.  
    1650:
    An aerial shot of the crime scene Police have cordoned off the scene to investigate

    David Dixon, head teacher at Mulgrave Primary School which is in the area, went out into the street when he heard a disturbance.

    "There were lots of police and emergency vehicles etc and I saw a body lying in the road," he said.

    "All the traffic had stopped. There were gunshots after that so I'm not sure about the situation after that, but all I needed to know was that there was an emergency and that we needed to go into our emergency procedures and make sure that the children were as safe as possible."

     
  16.  
    1652:

    The incident happened close to Woolwich Barracks, and local MP Nick Raynsford says the dead man was a soldier serving there.

     
  17.  
    1654:

    The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) confirms it has been informed of the incident.

    In a statement, the IPCC says: "Investigators have been deployed to the scene and to the post-incident process."

     
  18.  
    1656:

    Mr Raynsford says police have removed a "substantial number of weapons" from the scene, including knives and at least one firearm.

     
  19.  
    1658:

    Police say they are not looking for anyone else in relation to the incident in Woolwich.

     
  20.  
    1702:

    One witness, identified only as James, said two men attacked another man, aged about 20, who was wearing a Help for Heroes T-shirt.

    "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 told LBC radio.

     
  21.  
    1711:

    Ministry of Defence cannot confirm that a serving soldier died in the Woolwich attack.

     
  22.  
    1714:

    London Mayor Boris Johnson says his thoughts are with the victims' families.

     
  23.  
    1716:
    A helicopter at the scene Police and ambulance helicopters were sent to the incident

    The Ministry of Defence said it was urgently looking at the reports that the incident involved a soldier, but had no further comment.

     
  24.  
    1718: This eyewitness wishes to remain anonymous

    "I was walking my dog and heard some shouting about 50 yards from me. A man was running down the road and being chased by a car. The car then screeched to a halt and two men got out one had some kind of sword. They literally swung at the other guy's head. The armed police turned up and there were some shots. We were told to go home and now they won't let us out. We're in lockdown. There actually now seems more activity than there was before. I can hear helicopters and there are police officers with guns."

     
  25.  
    1726:

    The Home Secretary Theresa May summons a meeting of Cobra, the government's emergency response committee in Whitehall, to assess the incident in Woolwich.

     
  26.  
    1727:

    Sources tell the BBC's James Landale Mrs May has also spoken to the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Bernard Hogan-Howe, and the head of MI5, asking to be updated on the incident.

     
  27.  
    1729:
    A crowd standing outside the police cordon Police have closed the area around the crime scene

    Police, who have given little information so far, say they will issue an official statement between 17:30 BST and 18:00 BST.

     
  28.  
    1734:

    Prime Minister David Cameron tweets: "The killing in #Woolwich is truly shocking - I have asked the Home Secretary to chair a COBRA meeting."

     
  29.  
    1738:

    Witness Graham Wilders told the BBC he arrived on the scene to find a car crashed into a wall and a man on the ground.

    "Two people were lying over him and I thought they were trying to resuscitate him," he said.

    But Mr Wilders said he drove on to park his car, and when he returned another witness told him the two men were stabbing the man on the ground.

     
  30.  
    1744:

    Senior Whitehall sources have told the BBC that the Woolwich attackers are thought to have tried to film their attack whilst shouting "Allahu Akbar" - God is Great, says political editor Nick Robinson.

    The Prime Minister is expected to speak to the Home Secretary at 18:15 BST from a train to Paris about what is now being treated by government as a suspected terrorist attack, Mr Robinson says.

     
  31.  
    1753:

    Senior aides to Mayor of London Boris Johnson describe the Woolwich killing as a 'sickening deluded deranged act of violence', says the BBC's Robin Brant.

     
  32.  
    1754: James

    an eye-witness on the scene told LBC: "These two guys were crazy, they just were not there, they were just animals. They dragged the poor guy - he was obviously dead, there was no way a human could take what they did to him. They dragged him from the pavement and dumped his body in the middle of the road and left his body there."

     
  33.  
    1754:

    Numerous pictures have been taken by witnesses and others who arrived on the scene after the incident.

     
  34.  
    1758:

    Met Police Commander Simon Letchford confirms officers shot two men at the scene.

    He said he believed "from early reports" that both men were carrying weapons.

     
  35.  
    1800:

    Whitehall sources say it is "a fair supposition" that the Woolwich incident is a terrorist incident, reports BBC political correspondent Norman Smith.

     
  36.  
    1807:

    Commander Letchford adds: "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."

     
  37.  
    1808:

    Defence Secretary Philip Hammond will also attend Cobra meeting, says BBC's James Landale.

     
  38.  
    1813:

    Labour leader Ed Miliband tweets: "Shocked by appalling events in Woolwich. Whole country will be horrified by what has happened."

     
  39.  
    1815:

    Home Secretary Theresa May confirms she has been briefed by the Director General of the Security Service MI5 on the "sickening and barbaric" incident in Woolwich.

     
  40.  
    1817:

    Dr Usama Hasan, of the counter-extremism think-tank Quilliam Foundation, tells BBC Radio 5 live that although the full details are not known, the fear is the attack was carried out by "seriously crazy militants".

     
  41.  
    1823:

    Prime Minister David Cameron is expected to give a press conference when he arrives in Paris, where he is on his way to meet French President Francois Hollande shortly.

     
  42.  
    1829:

    Home Secretary Theresa says in a statement: "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."

     
  43.  
    1830:

    BBC correspondent Dominic Casciani tweets: "Here's the only public image of COBR(A) - Whitehall's emergency briefing room where ministers are meeting #Woolwich http://goo.gl/f4KYy."

     
  44.  
    1834:

    Defence Secretary Phillip Hammond, Met chief Bernard Hogan Howe and London Mayor Boris Johnson have all arrived for the Cobra meeting, says the BBC's Robin Brant.

     
  45.  
    1840:

    Prime Minister David Cameron is to return to London from Paris later this evening, the BBC's Norman Smith reports.

     
  46.  
    1842:

    UKIP leader Nigel Farage says: "We are all left horrified by this appalling attack on the peaceful streets of London, and our thoughts and prayers go out to the family of the young man who was killed and those who were injured."

    "I hope and believe that this is an isolated incident and appeal for calm."

     
  47.  
    1845:

    Mr Cameron is expected to chair another meeting of the Cobra emergency committee on Thursday morning.

     
  48.  
    1846:

    The BBC's James Landale says House of Commons sources say there has been no request yet from Downing Street for Parliament to be recalled.

     
  49.  
    1852:

    ITV is reporting it has footage of one of the alleged attackers.

    In the footage, the man is heard to say: "We swear by almighty Allah we will never stop fighting you."

    Please note: Some readers may find this video disturbing.

     
  50.  
    1859:

    Former Labour Home Secretary John Reid says: "If it's a terrorist action, if it's proven to be, it's very difficult to counter this kind of attack."

    He tells the BBC a "clean skin" - someone with no terrorist record - can be very difficult to identify and catch.

     
  51.  
    1908:

    The BBC's Nick Robinson tweets: "To those offended by my describing the attacker as of "Muslim appearance" - I was directly quoting a Whitehall source quoting the police."

     
  52.  
    1908:

    Buckingham Palace says the Queen is concerned at the news of the attack in Woolwich and is being kept informed, reports BBC royal correspondent Peter Hunt.

     
  53.  
    1911:

    In footage broadcast by ITV, the alleged attacker says: "We swear by almighty Allah we will never stop fighting you."

    He adds: "I apologise that women have had to witness this today, but in our land our women have to see the same.

    "You people will never be safe. Remove your government, they don't care about you."

     
  54.  
    1915:

    PM David Cameron describes the Woolwich attack as a sickening and appalling crime.

     
  55.  
    1917:

    Mr Cameron says there is a "strong indication" this was a terrorist incident.

    Giving a press conference alongside President Francois Hollande on a planned trip to France, Mr Cameron adds that people of "every community" in Britain will "utterly condemn" the killing.

     
  56.  
    1919:

    The prime minister adds that Britain will "never buckle" in the face of such attacks.

     
  57.  
    1921:

    A spokesman for Labour leader Ed Miliband said he would be cutting short a visit to Germany to return to the UK as soon as possible.

     
  58.  
    1928:

    John O'Connor, former commander of the Flying Squad, warns there is no way of knowing if this is "a one-off incident".

    He tells BBC News: "It seems to me that this is a departure from the established type of attacks that you see."

     
  59.  
    1935:

    Local Head teacher David Dixon told the BBC News Channel how his primary school was "locked down" as the events in Woolwich unfolded.

     
  60.  
    1936:

    The BBC's security correspondent, Frank Gardner, says there are still a lot of questions to be answered about the motivation behind the Woolwich attack.

    People should keep an open mind until more information emerges, he adds.

     
  61.  
    1939:

    Local MP Nick Raynsford told the BBC he believed the Woolwich victim was a soldier although this has not yet been confirmed.

     
  62.  
    1943:

    Former Scotland Yard commander of specialist operations, Roy Ramm, tells the BBC News Channel that police will be looking into the background of the two men in custody, trying to establish whether this is part of some kind of organised network or individuals acting alone.

     
  63.  
    1949:

    A witness to the suspected terror attack in Woolwich describes seeing a man pulling out a handgun during the incident.

     
  64.  
    1953:

    The Cobra meeting called by Home Secretary Theresa May has finished, the BBC's Norman Smith reports.

    He says it was agreed to tighten security around Woolwich and other military barracks in London.

     
  65.  
    2000:

    The Muslim Council of Britain has condemned the Woolwich attack. "This is a truly barbaric act that has no basis in Islam and we condemn this unreservedly," its statement said.

     
  66.  
    2005:

    The Muslim Council of Britain's statement continued: "Our thoughts are with the victim and his family. We understand the victim is a serving member of the Armed Forces. Muslims have long served in this country's Armed Forces, proudly and with honour. This attack on a member of the Armed Forces is dishonourable, and no cause justifies this murder."

     
  67.  
    2007:

    A police woman was left with "no choice" but to shoot one of the two suspected terrorists, witnesses say.

    Speaking from Woolwich, the BBC's Chris Eakin says witnesses described how one of the men "rushed" at the police brandishing weapons.

     
  68.  
    2009:

    The two men shot by police are both still alive and are being held under armed guard in hospitals, the BBC's Nick Robinson reports.

     
  69.  
    2019:

    If you are just joining us, the news is that one man has died and two suspects have been shot by police following a suspected terrorist incident in Woolwich, south-east London.

    Footage has emerged showing a man, apparently one of two attackers, wielding a bloodied meat cleaver and making statements including: "We swear by almighty Allah we will never stop fighting you."

    The home secretary has chaired a meeting of the government's emergency response committee, Cobra, and the prime minister is returning from a meeting in Paris, having described the attack as "the most appalling crime".

     
  70.  
    2021:

    The two men suspected of carrying out the attack lingered at the scene for "some time" and "boasted" about what they had done, the BBC's Chris Eakin reports.

    He says bystanders also say they heard the men shout: "It was God's will."

     
  71.  
    2032:

    Footage has emerged following the suspected terrorist attack in Woolwich of a man with bloodied hands talking to a camera.

    WARNING: This video contains some disturbing images.

     
  72.  
    2037:

    The Ministry of Defence has stepped up security at all its London barracks and military personnel are being advised to be vigilant.

     
  73.  
    2042:

    Home Affairs Select Committee chairman Keith Vaz MP condemns the "horrifying" attack in Woolwich.

     
  74.  
    2045:

    Mr Vaz tells the BBC News Channel the incident was "totally unprecedented".

     
  75.  
    2051:
    A forensics officer gathering evidence in Woolwich A major police investigation has begun

    Dr Brooke Rogers, of Kings College London, says footage and photographs of the incident show a "calm response" from witnesses.

    She tells the BBC communities often "pull together" after such events.

     
  76.  
    2055:

    Home Secretary Theresa May says in a statement this "was an attack on everyone in the UK".

     
  77.  
    2057:

    Mrs May added: "Despicable acts like these will not go unpunished."

     
  78.  
    2058:

    Help for Heroes, the charity whose t-shirt witnesses at Woolwich said the victim was wearing, said in a statement: "Help for Heroes is appalled to hear that a man, believed to be a serving soldier, has been brutally murdered in Woolwich today.

    "We are desperately saddened to hear of this sickening attack and offer our thoughts and prayers to his family, colleagues and friends."

     
  79.  
    2102:

    In her statement, the home secretary refused to confirm or deny if the alleged Woolwich attackers were known to MI5 or the police.

     
  80.  
    2150:

    With no further developments expected tonight, the current situation is that one man is dead and two suspected terrorists are under armed guard in London hospitals. The men were shot by police after apparently stabbing a soldier to death near Woolwich Barracks in south-east London.

    The Ministry of Defence has not confirmed the victim was a soldier, but local MP Nick Raynsford told the BBC he was. David Cameron said there was a "strong indication" it was a terrorist attack.

     
  81.  
    2153:

    Coming up on the BBC News at 10, Tom Symonds will be live at scene with the latest, Frank Gardner will look at the security implications and Nick Robinson will have the reaction from Westminster.

     
  82.  
    2155:

    That concludes our live coverage of today's suspected terrorist attack in Woolwich, south-east London. You can keep across any subsequent updates on the BBC News Channel and the BBC News website.

     

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