British Conservative lawmaker David Amess has died after he was stabbed during a meeting with constituents at a church in eastern England.
The Essex Police force said that officers were called to reports of a stabbing in Leigh-on-Sea just after noon on Friday. The police said that a 25-year-old man has been arrested and “a knife recovered”.
The police said, “We are not looking for anyone else in connection with the incident and do not believe there is an ongoing threat to the wider public.”
The counterterrorism officers later took over the investigation and branded the stabbing a terror attack. Police did not publically identify the suspect being held on suspicion of murder.
Essex Police Chief Constable Ben-Julian Harrington said, “The investigation is in its very early stages.”
“One of the kindest, nicest, most gentle people”
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson offered his heartfelt condolences on the incident. Johnson hailed the slain lawmaker as “one of the kindest, nicest, most gentle people in politics”.
Talking to reporters, Johnson said, “I think all our hearts are full of shock and sadness today at the loss of Sir David Amess MP, who was killed in his constituency surgery, in a church, after almost 40 years of continuous service to the people of Essex and the whole of the United Kingdom.”
Serving people till death
British media reported that Amess was attacked during a regular meeting with constituents at Belfairs Methodist Church. The church is located in a residential area of Leigh-on-Sea, a seaside town east of London.
Aerial footage showed several ambulances and an air ambulance was waiting nearby the church.
A local councillor John Lamb said that Amess had not been taken to hospital more than two hours after the attack and the situation was “extremely serious.”
The 69-years-old veteran politician had been a member of Parliament for Southend West, which includes Leigh-on-Sea, since 1997, but has been a lawmaker since 1983. Amess was a well-liked member of parliament, best known for his ceaseless campaign to have Southend declared a city.
“Alarming” and “deeply shocking’
Politicians from across the political landscape expressed shock at the initial reports of the stabbing. Labour Party leader Keir Starmer tweeted, “Horrific and deeply shocking news. Thinking of David, his family and his staff.”
Former Tory Prime Minister David Cameron tweeted, “Very alarming and worrying news reports coming from Leigh-on-Sea. My thoughts and prayers are with Sir David Amess and his family.”
4th attack on MPs since turn of century
British lawmakers are under the protection of armed police when they are inside parliament, but have no such protection in their constituencies. MP Amess published the times and locations of his open meetings with constituents on his website.
Earlier in June 2016, Labour Party lawmaker Jo Cox was fatally stabbed and shot in her northern England constituency. A far-right extremist was convicted of her murder.
In a tweet, Cox’s widower Brendan Cox, “Attacking our elected representatives is an attack on democracy itself. There is no excuse, no justification. It is as cowardly as it gets.”
Two other British lawmakers have been attacked since the turn of the century during their “surgeries,” regular meetings where constituents can present concerns and complaints.
In May 2010, Labour legislator Stephen Timms was stabbed in the stomach and injured by a female student radicalized by online sermons from an Al Qaeda-linked preacher.
Earlier in 2000, Liberal Democrat lawmaker Nigel Jones and his aide Andrew Pennington were attacked by a man wielding a sword during such a meeting. Pennington succumbed to his wounds; however, Jones survived his injuries from the attack in Cheltenham, England.
Courtesy: TRT World