An active duty soldier was “beheaded” Wednesday afternoon in London by machete-wielding assailants who were shot by police moments later, British media outlets reported.
The man was reportedly stationed at the Royal Artillery Barracks in London, near the location of the attack. Luke Huseyin, who witnessed the attack, told The Telegraph that he noticed the commotion after two dark-skinned men emerged from a wrecked vehicle dragging another man.
He went on, explaining:
They started slashing him up with the knife and hitting him in the stomach with the machete. I don’t think it took long before he was dead. There were people passing by who were screaming and running away. I’ve never seen anything like it.
He added that it took about 20 minutes for police to arrive, during which time the men just stood and waited for them. When they arrived, the men allegedly ran at police brandishing weapons, only to be shot down.
A photo of one of the attackers was published on Britain’s 4 News, showing a black man in a black jacket holding two large knives, his hands covered with blood. An eyewitness told the channel that the men said they “wanted to give a message to the British government” in retaliation for military deployment on Arab lands.
“He was getting people to take photos of him,” the man explained in audio published online. “He was standing there crazed like, ‘Take photos of me!’ Like he wanted to be on TV.”
Video from the scene aired by ITV showed the man apologizing that women witnessed the attack, saying: “In our lands, women have to see the same. You people will never be safe.”
“We swear by almighty Allah we will never stop fighting you,” he added.
The British government is treating the attack as a suspected act of terrorism, the prime minister’s office told CNN.