Deadly stabbing at UK lawmaker David Amess branded as terrorist incident by UK police


“The first investigations revealed a potential motivation linked to Islamist extremism,” according to a statement from the metropolitan police overnight.

Authorities said they believed the suspect had acted alone and that they “were not looking for anyone else in connection with the incident at this time.” Investigations into the circumstances are continuing, however, the statement added.

Two addresses in the London area are sought.

Amess, a member of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s ruling Conservative Party, has died after being stabbed multiple times during a constituency meeting in east London.

The 69-year-old MP, who represented Southend West in Essex, was assaulted around noon on Friday by a man who entered a meeting with constituents in his constituency that was being held at a Methodist church in Leigh-on-Sea.

“He was treated by emergency services but unfortunately died at the scene,” Essex Police said.

“A 25-year-old man was quickly arrested after police arrived at the scene suspected of murder and a knife was recovered.”

The man arrested on suspicion of Amess’s murder is believed to be a British national of Somali descent, official sources told Britain’s national news agency PA Media, formerly known as the Press Association.

The UK’s Counter Terrorism Command will investigate the murder, police said on Friday. “It will be up to investigators to determine whether or not this is a terrorist incident. But as always, they will keep an open mind,” Essex Police Chief Ben-Julian Harrington told reporters.

Emergency services at the scene near Belfairs Methodist Church where David Amess was stabbed in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex.
The murder was another dark moment in British political history. This is the second murder of a sitting UK lawmaker in five years, after Labor MP Jo Cox was killed in her constituency in 2016 by a man with far-right views, and reignited talks on the security of British elected officials.

The country’s political, religious and societal leaders, as well as her royal family, have all condemned the attack and paid tribute to Amess.

Those who knew him described Amess – who was married with five children – as a dedicated local representative, deeply rooted in his community and indifferent to the careerism of national politics.

Prime Minister Johnson was joined by all of his living predecessors in expressing their shock, and lawmakers from all corners of the political spectrum have spoken of their sadness, concern and anger after another of their colleagues was killed while meeting his constituents.

“We are shocked and saddened by the murder of Sir David Amess, who has devoted 40 years of his life to serving his community,” William and Catherine, The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, said in a statement. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends and colleagues.”

Home Secretary Priti Patel tweeted on Friday that questions “were rightly asked” about the safety of lawmakers, adding that she “would provide updates in due course.”

British MPs usually meet residents of their constituencies face to face during ‘surgeries’, and they rarely have an element of security.

Tory MP Tobias Ellwood, who tried to save the life of an injured police officer in a 2017 Westminster terror attack, tweeted on Saturday that MPs’ engagement with the public was a “vital part of our job” but that there was now, naturally, “enormous anxiety” among his colleagues.

“Until the Home Secretary’s security review of MPs is completed, I would recommend a temporary BREAK in face-to-face meetings,” he said.

Police at the scene near Eastwood Road Church.

“A terrible day for democracy”

Aerial footage showed several police officers outside the church and an air ambulance at the scene. A large cordon stretched across Eastwood Road, where the church is located, with members of the public gathered behind it and several side streets closed.

Once it became clear that Msess was the victim of the stab wounds – and soon after that he had passed away – the British political establishment united in grief. In a Downing Street statement, Johnson said the MP “was one of the nicest, kindest and kindest people in politics”.

“David was a man who believed passionately in this country and its future,” Johnson said. “Today we have lost a good civil servant.

The leader of the main opposition Labor Party, Keir Starmer, wrote on Twitter: “Horrible and deeply shocking news. I am thinking of David, his family and his team.”

Former Prime Minister David Cameron has said that Amess was “a nice and utterly decent man” and “the most committed MP you could hope to meet”.

“Words cannot adequately express the horror of what happened today. Right now my heart goes out to David’s family,” Cameron said. Cameron’s successor Theresa May added that the news was “heartbreaking” and “a tragic day for our democracy”.

She described Amess as “a decent man and respected parliamentarian, killed in his own community in the line of public office”.

And former Labor leader Tony Blair said in a statement to PA Media: “David and I entered Parliament together in 1983. Although on opposing political camps, I have always found him to be a courteous, decent and decent colleague. very friendly person who was respected throughout the House. “

“It is a terrible and sad day for our democracy,” said Blair.

Flags outside Parliament were reduced to half the staff after his death.

Labor Mayor Sadiq Khan called Amess a “great civil servant” who “loved being an MP”. Sajid Javid, the British Health Secretary, called him “a great man, a great friend and a great Member of Parliament killed while fulfilling his democratic role”.

Amess entered Parliament in 1983, initially representing the constituency of Basildon. Since then, he has served continuously in the House of Commons, making him one of the oldest lawmakers in the House.

Amess was knighted in 2015 for his political service. He supported Britain’s departure from the European Union and his main areas of expertise were animal welfare and pro-life issues, according to a biography posted on his website.

In March, Amess asked parliament a question about how to stop “senseless killings” with knives, after a teenager in her constituency was killed in a knife attack.

Second British lawmaker assassinated in five years

In the British political bubble and beyond, the murder has rekindled painful memories of the shocking murder of Jo Cox five years ago.

The incident rocked the nation and led to calls for lawmakers to receive personal protection when they are in public – a sentiment that resurfaced on Friday after Amess’ death.

“All elected officials must be able to go about their business without fear of being physically or verbally attacked,” Amess’ colleague, Conservative MP Eleanor Laing, said in a tweet Friday following the stabbing. “What happened to Sir David Amess in Essex today is unforgivable.”

Amess was not considered a controversial politician and, despite his length of tenure, he was not a widely known political figure in the UK.

In a book he wrote last year on being an MP, Amess said Cox’s murder was “totally unexpected” and that the event changed the way MPs interact with members of the House. public, especially with regard to constituency surgeries.

“These growing attacks have instead spoiled the great British tradition of people meeting openly with their elected politicians,” he wrote.

“Over the years, I myself have experienced nuisance from a few members of the general public on my own property. We regularly check our locks,” Amess added.

“This is an incident that will send shockwaves through the parliamentary community and across the country,” House of Commons Speaker Lindsay Hoyle said in a statement to CNN. “In the next few days, we will have to discuss and review the safety of MPs and any action to be taken, but for now our hearts and prayers are with David’s family, friends and colleagues.”

In 2010, Stephen Timms was stabbed in a constituency meeting by a 21-year-old college student, who was angry at Timms’ previous support for the Iraq war. Timms survived the attack and is still a lawmaker. And in 2000, a Liberal Democrat adviser was assassinated in the office of MP Nigel Jones.

Cox’s widower Brendan Cox wrote that the news of Amess’ attack “bring it all back”.

“My thoughts and love are with David’s family. They are all that matters now. It brings everything back. The pain, the loss, but also all the love the audience gave us after losing Jo. J ‘hope we can do the same for David now,’ he said on Twitter.

Cox was killed just days before the UK’s stormy referendum on leaving the European Union. The campaign and its aftermath raised the temperature of political discourse in the country, and several politicians have since spoken of being abused in person and online.

“This angry and violent behavior cannot be tolerated in politics or any other field,” Iain Duncan Smith, former leader of the Amess Conservative Party, said after his stabbing.

Sharon Braithwaite of CNN in London contributed to this report.

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