British police on Wednesday arrested two people as they tried to quell anti-Islamist disorder following the brutal murder in London of a man, believed to be a soldier.
A 43-year-old man was arrested in Braintree, east of London, after reportedly walking into a mosque with a knife shortly after news broke of the London murder.
Local lawmaker Brooks Newmark wrote on Twitter: “Local mosque in Braintree attacked by man with knives and incendiary device. Man arrested. No one injured.”
Elsewhere, a man was in custody in Gillingham, south east England, on suspicion of racially aggravated criminal damage to a mosque, a Kent Police spokesman said.
In the hours following the attack, around 250 supporters of the anti-Islamist English Defence League (EDL) gathered at Woolwich Arsenal train station.
The group hurled bottles and became involved in minor skirmishes with the police, but later dispersed without any arrests being reported.
EDL leader Tommy Robinson was among the crowd and explained: “They’re chopping our soldiers’ heads off. This is Islam. That’s what we’ve seen today… Our next generation are being taught through schools that Islam is a religion of peace.
“It’s not. It never has been. What you saw today is Islam,” he added. “There has to be a reaction, for the government to listen, for the police to listen, to understand how angry this British public are.”
Eyewitnesses to the horrific London attack described how the two suspects set upon a man in the street in broad daylight with knives and a gun.
They then stayed at the scene, asking passers-by to photograph and film them.
Armed police shot and wounded the two attackers after being called to the incident in Woolwich, south east London, by bystanders.
Prime Minister David Cameron has said the attack appeared to be terror-related.
The brutal daylight attack galvanized this city and raised fears that terrorism had returned to London.
Authorities did not identify the victim by name, but French President Francois Hollande referred to him as a “soldier” at a news conference in Paris with visiting British Prime Minister David Cameron.
Calling it “an appalling murder,” Cameron said there were “strong indications” it was an act of terrorism, and two other officials said there were signs the attack was motivated by radical Islam.
The Cabinet’s emergency committee was immediately convened and security was stepped up at army barracks across London. Cameron cut short his Paris trip to return to London and his office said he would chair another session Thursday.