LONDON (USA TODAY) - Two men armed with a machete, guns and other weapons killed a man - believed to be a soldier - on a street near a South London military barracks Wednesday in what officials are treating as a terrorist attack.
Police shot and wounded both suspects, who were later arrested.
The shocking attack, captured on video by onlookers, ended with one of the assailants, brandishing a cleaver and a knife in his blood-soaked hands, looking into one camera to deliver a statement filled with jihadist rhetoric.
"We swear by Almighty Allah we will never stop fighting you," the attacker said. "The only reasons we have done this is because Muslims are dying every day. This British soldier is an eye for an eye a tooth for tooth. We apologize that women had to see this today but in our lands our women have to see the same. You people will never be safe. Remove your government. They don't care about you."
There are unconfirmed reports that the victim was beheaded.
Both attackers waited calmly by the body until police arrived. Witnesses said officers shot one suspect as he ran toward them with knives, then wounded the other as he raised a gun. The pair were taken to separate hospitals and one was in serious condition, the BBC reported.
The Guardian newspaper quoted police as saying the man who died suffered knife injuries, possibly to the head. The BBC quoted a local member of Parliament as saying the dead man was a soldier.
British Prime Minister David Cameron cut short a visit to Paris to return to London. He called the attack "truly shocking" and said there were "strong indications" it was terror related.
The attack took place in Woolrich, near the Royal Artillery Barracks, which houses a number of the King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery and independent companies of the Grenadier and Coldstream Guards.
Witnesses said the attackers first drove into the victim on John Wilson Street about 2:20 p.m. (9:20 a.m. ET) before setting upon him in what police called "a frenzied machete attack."
A number of weapons, including a gun, knives and a machete, were seized at the scene.
The man who recorded the graphic video told ITV News that the bloodied suspect assured him he was not in danger.
"No, no, no, it's cool, I just want to talk to you," the suspect told the unidentified man.
London's Metropolitan Police asked residents of the southeast London community to "remain calm, and avoid unnecessary speculation" while the investigation got underway. Scotland Yard said its counter-terrorism unit would take the lead.
At a news conference in Paris, Cameron said, "Britain has suffered terrorist attacks before, terrorist attacks from the IRA, terrorist attacks from Islamic extremists."
He added, "We have suffered these attacks before and we have always beaten them back."
Home Secretary Theresa May called a meeting of the government's emergency response committee Cobra to assess the incident. She said she had been briefed by Britain's domestic security service, MI5, and by police on what she called a "sickening and barbaric" attack.
She said after the meeting that "despicable acts like these will not go unpunished" and that security would be increased at all London barracks. She called the killing an attack on everyone in the U.K."
The prime minister is to chair another Cobra meeting Thursday morning, May added.
The Muslim Council of Britain, a body that represents about 400 national, regional and local organizations, mosques and charities across the United Kingdom, condemned the attack.
"This is a truly barbaric act that has no basis in Islam and we condemn this unreservedly. Our thoughts are with the victim and his family. We understand the victim is a serving member of the Armed Forces," the group said in a statement.
"Muslims have long served in this country's Armed Forces, proudly and with honor. This attack on a member of the Armed Forces is dishonorable, and no cause justifies this murder," it said.
Speaking to ITV News, Boris Johnson, London's mayor, described the attack as a "sickening and unforgivable act of violence."
The far-right English Defense League called on supporters to "take to the streets" in Woolwich to protest the slaying. Late Wednesday, about 40 members charged police; there were no immediate reports of arrests or injuries.
One witness, identified by the BBC only as James, said two men had attacked another man, about age 20, who was wearing a T-shirt of the military charity Help for Heroes, which supports wounded servicemembers. Prince William and Prince Harry, both serving members of the British military, are patrons, and they appeared Monday at the opening of the charity's recovery center in Wiltshire.
In a statement, Help for Heroes said it was "appalled to hear that a man, believed to be a serving soldier, has been brutally murdered."
"We are desperately saddened to hear of this sickening attack and offer our thoughts and prayers to his family, colleagues and friends," the group said.
Contributing: Michael Winter, USA TODAY