x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

UK police make new arrests in soldier murder case

The two women and a man were detained following the killing of Lee Rigby, who was hacked to death with knives and cleavers on Wednesday while new details also emerged about the two prime suspects.

LONDON // British police arrested three more suspects in their investigation into the murder of a serving British soldier on a London street as more details of the main suspects emerged.

The two women and a man were detained following the killing of Lee Rigby, who was hacked to death with knives and cleavers on Wednesday in the London neighbourhood of Woolwich across the street from an army barracks.

The women, a 31-year-old and a 29-year-old who were arrested on Thursday on suspicion of conspiracy to murder, were both freed without charges yesterday, the Metropolitan Police said.

The third of the new arrests, a 29-year-old man, remains in custody.

Two men, 22 and 28, were arrested at the scene on May 22 after being shot by officers and are suspected of killing the soldier.

They remain in hospitals and have now been identified. One was named yesterday as Michael Adebowale, 22, of Greenwich, not far from the site of the attack, where neighbours described him as an ordinary guy with a fondness for football.

The other is Michael Adebajo, 28, a Muslim convert of Nigerian origin, who had been active in various Muslim organisations protesting against the British army's involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The two attended Greenwich University, not far from the scene of the killing in south-east London, and shared a flat in the area, according to media reports.

Both men were known to Britain's domestic security agency, the MI5, for eight years, though officials say there was never any indication that either of them were planning any violence.

Both have been charged for murder and remain under armed guard in separate hospitals in London. They were both shot and wounded after charging armed police who responded to emergency calls after the killing.

Neither made any attempt to escape the scene of the crime and analysts suggest they may have hoped to have been killed and "martyred" by police.

Footage of the moment when they were shot also emerged yesterday. It shows the two bolting forward once police arrive, Mr Adebolajo with a knife, Mr Adebowale with a gun.

Police officers fired eight rounds, felling the two men.

Police have rejected criticism that they took too long to get to the scene. Early estimates suggested it took as long as 20 minutes for police officers to arrive, during which time the attackers engaged passers-by, and talked to cameras to explain their actions.

They said the attack was in revenge for British army actions in Iraq and Afghanistan.

But police say it took only six minutes before the first armed officers were at the scene and that the whole incident, from report until the two were brought down, took 14 minutes.

Across Britain, meanwhile, 131 incidents of anti-Muslim acts were reported by the Tell MAMA (Measuring Anti-Muslim Attacks) website, in 30 hours since the killing.

It constitutes a "very serious spike" in anti-Muslim incidents in Britain, said Tell MAMA director Fiyaz Mughal. By way of comparison, Tell Mama counted just over 600 anti-Muslim incidents in one year since March 2012.

There was a petrol bomb attack on a mosque in Bletchley, Buckinghamshire, north-west of London on Thursday night. Two arrests were made on Wednesday night, one of which was when a man allegedly walked into a mosque in the county of Kent with a knife and an incendiary device.

 

okarmi@thenational.ae

* With additional reporting by Bloomberg News