22 May 2013

Far-right EDL supporters clash with police in Woolwich

Clashes erupt between police and members of the English Defence League in Woolwich, south east London, following the street killing of a man believed to be a serving soldier.

Far-right EDL clash with police in Woolwich after attack

English Defence League leader “Tommy Robinson” (pictured below) addressed more than 100 protesters who went to Woolwich after the apparent killing of a British soldier by two men thought to be Islamists on Wednesday.

Running battles erupted in the streets with youths and EDL activists in balaclavas throwing rocks at riot police. Some wore paramilitary dress.

Fifteen police vans attended the scene – witnesses said police now “have things under control”.

The dead man is believed to be a soldier who was wearing a Help for Heroes T-shirt when he was ambushed in the street in broad daylight on Wednesday afternoon and attacked with knives and a meat cleaver.

The attack has been described as “politically motivated” after video emerged of one of the attackers. In it he said the attack was “because David Cameron, (the) British government sent troops in Arabic country”.

Both men were shot by police and taken to local hospitals. It is reported at least one of the men had links to Somali militant group al-Shabaab.

An eyewitness said the men claimed it was a “message to the British government”.

Read more: British Muslims fear backlash after spike in reported abuse


David Cameron is returning early from his trip to Paris because of the attacks and subsequent trouble.

Earlier he said that Britain had faced terror attacks such as this before and added: “We will never buckle in the face of it.”

The Royal Artillery Barracks in Woolwich are close to where the attack took place.

Home Secretary Theresa May said that security has been stepped up at army barracks across London.

She confirmed that she had been briefed by the head of the MI5 on the “sickening and barbaric” incident.

Essex mosque arrest

A mosque at Braintree in Essex claimed to have been targeted in what was described as a “revenge” attack following the events in Woolwich earlier, reports Home Affairs Correspondent Darshna Soni.

Just before 7.30pm on Wednesday, the Imam at the mosque was preparing to welcome worshippers for prayer. Upstairs, a member of the congregation was in the kitchen when he heard a shout coming from the main entrance. He said that a man ran into the mosque carrying two knives.

“He was shouting and waving, and had something in his hand, I don’t know what it was exactly but it was a like a smoke bomb, there was smoke everywhere.”

‘He was shouting and waving, and had something in his hand, I don’t know what it was exactly but it was a like a smoke bomb, there was smoke everywhere.’

Several members of the mosque claim that the man was shouting at worshippers to come out, saying “where is your Allah now?”

They called the police, who arrived within minutes and made an arrest.

The secretary of the mosque, Sikander Saleemy, told Channel 4 News: “The police said it’s too early to try and link it to what happened in Woolwich, but those of us who were here feel that it was some sort of revenge attack. It was clear from the man’s behaviour.”

Mr Saleemy said they were deeply upset: “We absolutely condemn what happened in Woolwich, but it had nothing to do with us. It was an appalling act of terror – but it wasn’t ‘Islamic’ in any way. I wish it wasn’t described like that, because sadly people will now start to blame Muslims.”

Mosques across the country have been warned to be vigilant in case of further attack.