London: Scotland Yard on Saturday said its Counter Terrorism Command is leading the investigation into the killing of Conservative Party parliamentarian David Amess as they probe a potential Islamist terrorism link to the fatal stabbing at Leigh-on-Sea in Essex on Friday.
A 25-year-old British man, believed to be of Somali heritage, was arrested at the scene on suspicion of murder and remains in custody at a police station in Essex, south-east England.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Opposition Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer laid flowers at Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea, the scene of the stabbing, together on Saturday morning.
Senior National Coordinator for Counter Terrorism Policing, Deputy Assistant Commissioner Dean Haydon formally declared the incident as terrorism. The early investigation has revealed a potential motivation linked to Islamist extremism, the Metropolitan Police said in a statement.
A 25-year-old British man was arrested at the scene on suspicion of murder. He is currently in custody at a police station in Essex. As part of the investigation, officers are currently carrying out searches at two addresses in the London area and these are ongoing, it said.
It is believed that he acted alone, and we are not seeking anyone else in connection with the incident at this time. However, enquiries into the circumstances continue, it added.
The investigation is being led by the Met’s Counter Terrorism Command, alongside the Eastern Region Specialist Operations Unit (ERSOU) and Essex Police, and the police have urged any witnesses to come forward to assist their inquiries with any video footage.
UK Home Secretary Priti Patel has announced a security review of members of Parliament. Patel, also an MP from Essex like Amess, paid tribute to her late party colleague as a “man of the people”, saying “he was absolutely there for everyone” and was “killed doing a job he loved”.
“We are all struggling to come to terms with the fact that David Amess has been so cruelly taken away from all of us,” she said.
Johnson earlier paid tribute to the late Tory MP as “one of the kindest, nicest, most gentle people in politics”.
Sir David Amess, 69, represented Southend West in Essex and was holding a constituency surgery where voters can meet their elected MP and discuss concerns at the church on Friday when he was attacked. He had been an MP since 1983 and was married with five children.
He is the second serving British member of Parliament to be fatally stabbed in the past five years, following the murder of Labour MP Jo Cox in 2016.
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