Two shot by police after soldier hacked to death on street near Royal Artillery Barracks in Woolwich, London
A MAN believed to be a serving British soldier was hacked to death in south east London metres away from his barracks by two men with meat cleavers ranting "we swear by almighty Allah we will never stop fighting you".
In extraordinary broad daylight scenes in Woolwich, in southeast London, the men ran the man down in a car then tried to hack the man’s head off and have their own crime filmed.
They then waited 20 minutes for police to turn up before charging at them with meat cleavers, knives and a hand gun.
Both men, shouting "Allah Akbar" or "God is great" in Arabic, were shot by police snipers including a female officer, and were this morning (AEST) in hospital under guard in a serious but stable condition.
The attackers demanded onlookers take photos and video of the sickening attack.
One brave woman, scout leader Ingrid Loyau-Kennett bravely confronted one of the men, who ranted: "We want to start a war in London tonight."
She told the man: "Right now it is only you versus many people, you are going to lose, what would you like to do?', Britain's Daily Telegraph reported.
Scotland Yard has confirmed two men were arrested over the "shocking and horrific" murder.
Officers from the counter-terrorism unit are leading the investigation, Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe said.
The British government has convened the so-called Cobra committee, including emergency services leaders, to co-ordinate a response to the incident.
British Prime Minister David Cameron, who was in Paris meeting French President Francoise Hollande and had to rush back to London, described the crime as “sickening” and an appalling murder as he summonsed his emergency Cobra ministers.
He said it was a “terrorist incident”.
"We have suffered these attacks before, we have always beaten them back," Mr Cameron said.
The Opposition leader Ed Miliband cut short a trip to Germany.
Al Qaeda celebrated the murder of the soldier. On its main password-protected website, Al-Shamoukh Al-Islam, its first report on the incident was headlined: "Allah is the greatest – the liquidation of a British soldier in their own home – South London."
Police have not officially confirmed the victim's identity or that he was a soldier, but numerous sources have said he exited Woolwich barracks, home to the 2nd Battalion Princess of Wales Royal Regiment, and that he was wearing a "Help for Heroes" T-shirt, a charity helping the injured and veterans of the armed services.
Dozens of people witness attack
Witnesses have given terrifying accounts of what they saw on the main street in the suburb at 2.20pm (London time, 11.20pm AEST), describing two men chopping at the victim “like a piece of meat”.
“They were hacking at this poor guy, literally,” said one witness, identified only as James as he fought back tears.
“They were hacking at him, chopping him, cutting him. These two guys were crazed.”
The men then apparently stood around the body and demanded shocked witnesses take photographs of them.
TV network ITV News aired footage of one of the men walking away carrying a knife with blood on his hands and ranting.
Other news sites ran video of one of the attackers - with a bloodied meat cleaver in his hand - saying: "You people will never be safe.
"Remove your government, they don't care about you.
"You think David Cameron is going to get caught in the street when we start bussin' our guns? You think politicians are going to die?
"No it's going to be the average guy, like you, and your children.
"So get rid of them. Tell them to bring our troops back so you can all live in peace."
With his hands bloodied and carrying a cleaver, he told the bystander with a camera: "I apologise that women had to witness this today but in our lands our women have to see the same.
"You people will never be safe. Remove your governments – they don’t care about you."
He also added: “We must fight them as they fight us. An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.”
The man, who spoke English without a foreign accent, then sauntered back across the road to his victim lying in the street to join his accomplice.
The two men made no attempt to escape and then charged a police car carrying an armed police team when it arrived at the scene about 15 minutes after the killing, according to a witness.
"The black guy ran at them with a meat cleaver before it stopped and he was right by the car when they shot him,” Julia Wilders, 51, who lives nearby, was quoted as saying in British media.
"There were two black guys that looked like they were trying to resuscitate a white guy on the floor.
"I thought there'd been an accident but then I saw they were using meat cleavers to hack him up.
"We live just behind where it happened and once we got back we walked back to have a look and that's when I saw one of the black guys pull out a handgun.
"My husband screamed at me to get back. I was petrified.
"As I was running back I saw the police pull up and the black guy was running towards the police car and they shot him."
Another witness, Shane Webb, 48, an electrician who lives in a tower block overlooking the scene, says he looked out of the window of his flat after hearing a loud bang.
"There was a white man lying in the middle of the street. He was definitely dead. He was wearing a bomber jacket," he told Britain's Daily Telegraph.
"As I was watching a police car pulled up and two cops got out.
"They both just raised their guns and fired. There were about five or six shots very fast and one of the black guys just
went down. I don't know if he was dead or not, but he just collapsed, just went down.
"They were firing at both of them and I think the other was hit as well, but I couldn't see that very well."
Local rapper Boya Dee described the events on Twitter.
“The first guy goes for the female fed [police officer] with the machete and she not even ramping she took man out like robocop never seen nutn like it,” he wrote.