British Prime Minister David Cameron said Thursday that "nothing in Islam" justified this week's brutal killing of a soldier in south London by two suspected Islamic extremists.
In a statement outside his official residence at 10 Downing Street, he said Britain would be "absolutely resolute in its stand against violent terrorism and extremism" and that all of the country's ethnic communities shared that same vision.
"The people who did this were trying to divide us," the conservative prime minister said. "They should know something like this will only bring us together and make us stronger."
He made his remarks after presiding over a meeting of the government's Cobra emergency committee, attended by several Cabinet ministers and the heads of police and security agencies.
Without offering further details that might interfere with the investigation, Cameron said the killing of the soldier, who was hacked to death Wednesday afternoon in Woolwich (a district in southeast London) by two individuals who invoked Allah, was "a betrayal of Islam."
"There is nothing in Islam that justifies this truly dreadful act," Cameron said, adding that Britain's Muslim community was united in condemning the murder.
Two male assailants - British citizens of Nigerian origin, according to the British media - have been arrested in the homicide. They are under police guard at separate hospitals after being shot and wounded by police officers who arrived at the scene of the crime.
The two suspects allegedly used a car to knock down the soldier, who was walking outside a military barracks, and then hacked him to death in broad daylight as witnesses looked on.
In video footage aired by Britain's ITV News, one of the suspects - speaking directly into the camera at the scene of the murder and holding a machete-type knife in his blood-stained hands - alluded to the deployment of Western forces in places like Iraq and Afghanistan in justifying the attack.
"By Allah, we swear by the Almighty Allah that we will never stop fighting you until you leave us alone." the man said. "We must fight them as they fight us, an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth."
The Muslim Council of Britain, for its part, roundly condemned the attack in a statement, calling the killing "a barbaric act that has no basis in Islam."
On Wednesday night, two people were arrested for attempted attacks on mosques in England, while the far-right English Defense League street movement clashed with police during an anti-Islam demonstration in Woolwich.
Cameron said Thursday that the best way to combat terrorism is to "go about our normal lives and that is what we shall all do." EFE