A major police operation has been launched after two suspected terrorists murdered a man in the street in broad daylight.
Eyewitnesses said the victim was hacked to death, with some suggesting his attackers tried to behead him, before charging at police when they arrived on the scene in Woolwich, south east London.
A local MP said the victim was believed to be a soldier.
Prime Minister David Cameron called a meeting of the Government’s Cobra crisis committee, describing the incident as “truly shocking”.
Cobra meetings are crisis response committees set up to coordinate the actions of different agencies, including the security services, police and local authorities.
Metropolitan Police Commander Simon Letchford confirmed last night that the two attackers were shot by armed officers.
He said in a statement: “At approximately 1420 we were called to reports of an assault in John Wilson Street, Woolwich, where one man was being assaulted by two other men.
“A number of weapons were reportedly being used in the attack, and this included reports of a firearm.
“Officers including local Greenwich officers arrived at the scene and shortly after firearms officers arrived on the scene. On their arrival at the scene they found a man, who was later pronounced dead. At this early stage I am unable to provide any further information about the man who has died.
“Two men, who we believe from early reports to have been carrying weapons, were shot by police. They were taken to separate London hospitals. They are receiving treatment for their injuries.”
Several witnesses described seeing a “beheading” while another described a man wearing a Help for Heroes T-shirt being attacked with a machete-style knife.