London, UK (NBC) — A man, reported to be a British soldier, was attacked and killed by knife-wielding assailants on a London street in broad daylight Wednesday in what is being investigated as an ideologically-motivated terror attack.,
Eyewitnesses told ITV News that two attackers were later shot by officers.
A witness identified as James told local radio station LBC that he saw two suspects attack the young victim with knives, including a meat cleaver.
"They were hacking at this poor guy, literally," he told the station. "They were hacking at him, chopping him, cutting him."
Prime Minister David Cameron, on a trip to Paris, said the early indications were that it was a terror attack.
Local lawmaker Nick Raynsford said the dead man was a soldier serving at a nearby barracks, but the Ministry of Defence could not immediately confirm this.
Multiple witnesses said the victim was wearing a T-shirt bearing the logo of the veterans charity Help for Heroes.
The attack took place in broad daylight less than a mile from a military barracks, in Woolwich, southeast London.
Britain’s Home Secretary Theresa May told ITV News she had been briefed by the Director General of the Security Service MI5 on what she called a "sickening and barbaric" attack.
A senior British security source said the attack appeared to be "ideologically motivated."
"From the look of it it is indeed a low-tech terror attack," the source said.
One eyewitness posted on Twitter that he had seen the victim "with his head chopped off" but this was not confirmed by any police or government officials.
Local resident Graham Wilders told the BBC he saw a man pulling out a handgun. He said:
“As I drove around the corner I see the car on the pavement. I thought there’s been an accident … there was two people leaning over and I thought they were trying to resuscitate him, there was a bloke against the wall.
“Next minute I’ve gone down and parked in the (garage)… and another bloke has come along and told me they was actually stabbing him, apparently they actually run the car into him and knocked him done before they done anything.
“And then next minute there was a bloke come along in a silver little car and he got out and he shouted out to everyone ‘someone phone the police.’ So we phone the police. So next minute what happened he actually pulled a handgun out.”
“Next minute I see the silver car shoot off.”
Metropolitan Police Commander Simon Letchford told reporters:
"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."