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Lawmaker stabbed to death in possible terrorist attack

A British lawmaker was stabbed to death in a church on Friday by an assailant who lunged at him during a meeting with voters from his constituency, a killing police are investigating as a possible terrorist attack.

David Amess, 69, from Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party, was knifed repeatedly in the attack at about midday in the Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea, east of London.

A 25-year-old man was arrested at the scene on suspicion of murder, and detectives said specialist counter-terrorism officers from London police were leading their initial investigation. Politicians described the attack as an assault on democracy.

“David was a man who believed passionately in this country and in its future and we have lost today a fine public servant and a much loved friend and colleague,” said Johnson, who rushed back to London from the west of England after the news broke.

Armed police swooped on the church and paramedics fought to save the lawmaker’s life on the floor of the church – where a sign says “All are welcome here: where old friends meet and strangers feel at home” – but in vain.

“Tragically, he died at the scene,” Essex Police Chief Constable Ben-Julian Harrington told reporters. He said police at the time of the incident did not believe there was any immediate threat to anyone else.

“It will be for investigators to determine whether or not this may have been a terrorist incident. As always they will keep an open mind,” he said.

He gave no other details about a possible motive for the killing, the second fatal attack on a British lawmaker in their constituency in the last five years, which has prompted questions about the safety of politicians.

The Daily Telegraph reported that the arrested man was believed to be a Somalian national.

Colleagues from across parliament expressed their shock and paid tribute to Amess, one of Britain’s longest-serving lawmakers who held regular meetings with voters on the first and third Friday of the month, saying he was diligent in his duties to his local area.

Flags on all British government buildings will be flown at half-mast in tribute.

Amess, married with five children, was first elected to parliament to represent Basildon in 1983, and then Southend West in 1997. He was knighted by Queen Elizabeth for his public service in 2015.

  • Reuters

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