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This was an attack on Britain, a betrayal of Islam: UK PM

May 23, 2013 18:04 IST

British police, who are investigating the attack on the streets of London in which a soldier was hacked to death by two suspected Islamist extremists, on Thursday carried out a series of raids in Greenwich and Lincolnshire.

Anti-terror police forced their way into a flat and shattered the doorframe when they raided an address believed to belong to one of the attackers on a Greenwich housing estate.

They also raided an address in Saxilby, Lincolnshire in connection with the attack.

"We can confirm that the Metropolitan Police executed a search warrant under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act at an address in Lincolnshire," Lincolnshire police said.

"This is in connection with the ongoing investigation into the murder of a man in Woolwich. The Metropolitan Police are not prepared to discuss the matter further at this stage," they said.

Local media said addresses inside London were also being searched by police. Scotland Yard, however, refused to comment, the reports said.

Meanwhile, British Prime Minister David Cameron, who cut short his visit to Paris, has described the terror attack as "deeply shocking" that has "sickened us all".

"It was an attack on Britain and it was also a betrayal of Islam. There is nothing in Islam that justifies this truly dreadful act," he said, addressing the media outside 10 Downing Street today, soon after he chaired an emergency meeting of the high-level COBRA crisis group.

"This country will be absolutely resolute against violent extremism and terror. One of the best ways of defeating terrorism is to go about our normal lives, and that is what we should all do," he added.

The hour-long meeting of COBRA -- UK's highest crisis response group Cabinet Office Briefing Room A -- was convened after two extremists butchered a soldier in Woolwich, south-east London, on Wednesday.

It was attended by senior Cabinet ministers and police and intelligence chiefs to take stock of the security situation in the country.

"There was an operational update from the police and agencies into the on-going investigation and an update from the ministry of defence on protective security. There was a discussion about community cohesion. The strength and unity of response from Muslim community leaders was recognised and commended by ministers and others around the table," a Downing Street statement confirmed.

Two men were shot by police at the scene and are under arrest in serious condition in the hospital. One of the two suspects being held under armed guard has been named by Sky News sources as Michael Adebolajo.

Meanwhile, forensic experts continue to comb the scene of crime at Artillery Place, off John Wilson Street, near the Woolwich barracks.

A Metropolitan police spokesperson confirmed that officers travelled to Lincolnshire to carry out searches.

Police have also raided a house in Greenwich, near Woolwich, and two sisters in their 30s, an older woman, and a teenage boy were "taken away" by the police.

A mother of two is being hailed for her bravery after it was revealed that she attempted to talk down the terrorists just after they had killed the soldier with a machete.

Ingrid Loyau-Kennett, 48, received a special mention by Cameron in his statement.

"When she was told by one of them (extremists) they wanted to start a war. She replied, ‘You are going to lose. It is only you versus many’. She spoke for us all," he said.

Loyau-Kennett, a Cub Scout leader trained in first aid, put her own life on the line to try and persuade the murderers to hand over their weapons.

"I started to talk to him and I started to notice more weapons and the guy behind him with more weapons as well. By then, people had started to gather around. So I thought OK, I should keep him talking to me before he noticed everything around him," Loyau-Kennett said.

"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," she added.

The man killed in the attack has been confirmed as a soldier in the British army from the Woolwich barracks and his family have requested for his identity to not be disclosed at this stage.

This is the first terror murder on the British mainland since the July 7 suicide bombings of 2005.

One man -- his hands covered in blood -- was filmed by a passer-by, saying he carried out the attack because British soldiers killed Muslims every day.

Eyewitnesses say the victim was hacked to death by two men shouting "Allahu Akbar" (God is Great) and one of them proclaimed: "An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth."

Security has been increased at barracks across London and armed forces personnel based in London and elsewhere have been told to be more vigilant.

Meanwhile, two men have been arrested after separate attacks on mosques. A 43-year-old was held in custody on Wednesday night after he reportedly walked into a mosque holding a knife in Braintree, Essex.

Another man was arrested in Gillingham on suspicion of racially aggravated criminal damage as nearly 250 supporters of the extreme right-wing English Defence League gathered in Woolwich and clashed with police.

Image: A handwritten note is seen near the scene of the killing of a British soldier in Woolwich, southeast London | Photograph: Luke MacGregor/Reuters

Aditi Khanna
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