Nightly News   |  May 22, 2013

British soldier hacked to death in apparent act of terrorism

With weapons still in his blood-covered hands, one of the suspects in the attack made a long political statement to horrified bystanders.  When police arrived the two suspects charged at officers, who opened fire. NBC’s Michelle Kosinski reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> disturbing story out of london today . fair warning , this is tough to look at, especially when you realize what it is we are looking at. a british soldier in plain clothes ambushed and killed on a city street while his barbaric attackers wait for police to come while they take -- allow people to take video while they vent their message about religion and politics . for reasons you will see, this is now being treated as an act of terrorism. we get our report tonight from nbc 's michelle kosinski in london .

>> step back. move back. move back.

>> reporter: in the middle of the day in the busy working class neighborhood next to an army barracks , near an elementary school , a scene of such raw violence, few could believe it.

>> look at the guy. he's dead now.

>> reporter: people here say a young man who nbc news has confirmed was an active british soldier wearing a charity help for heroes t-shirt was walking along this sidewalk when two men in a car apparently drove into him, then got out and started stabbing him with multiple large knives.

>> they were hacking at this poor guy, chopping him, cutting him.

>> reporter: some eyewitnesses say the victim was decapitated in the attack and the two suspect es then approached people in the horrified crowd.

>> they were telling people to record them doing it.

>> reporter: one made a long political statement, weapons still in his blood-covered hands.

>> we will never stop fighting you until you leave us alone.

>> reporter: when police arrived witnesses say the men charged at officers who opened fire. both were hit, now in hospital.

>> small groups deciding to carry out these sorts of attacks is a part of a broader trend we have seen recently. the brutality we are seeing in this one does seem to be a new element we have not seen before.

>> reporter: prime minister david cameron is rushing home from france for an emergency meeting on what exactly this was. whether others could be involved or other attacks planned.

>> there are strong indications that it is a terrorist incident.

>> reporter: tonight the two suspects are formally under arrest. the government here is increasing security at army barracks across london . one of the men did indicate they targeted the victim because he was a soldier. michelle kosinski , nbc news, london .