LONDON — The fatal stabbing of a member of Parliament on Friday has been deemed a “terrorist incident” by British authorities.
David Amess, 69, a member of the Conservative Party, died after he was stabbed several times as he walked into a constituency meeting at Belfairs Methodist Church, about 40 miles east of London, the BBC reported.
Amess died at the scene, according to Essex police.
“The stabbing in Leigh-on-Sea has tonight been declared as a terrorist incident,” Metropolitan Police said in a statement issued Friday evening.
The release stated that Dean Haydon, the country’s deputy assistant commissioner, senior national coordinator for counterterrorism, formally declared the incident as an act of terrorism.
“The early investigation has revealed a potential motivation linked to Islamist extremism,” according to the news release.
According to the BBC, the 25-year-old man accused in the attack is a British national of Somali heritage. The man, who has not been identified, was arrested on suspicion of murder and police recovered a knife at the scene.
Amess had served in Parliament since 1983 and was known for his soft-spoken manner and hard-line views on Brexit, The New York Times reported. His death marks the second time in five years that a member of Parliament has been killed. On June 16, 2016, Labour MP Jo Cox was killed by Thomas Mair, according to the newspaper.
Prosecutors said Mair stabbed Cox, 41, 15 times and shot her with a sawed-off .22-caliber hunting rifle in the northern England town of Birstall, the Times reported. That was the first assassination of a sitting member of Parliament since 1990, when members of the Irish Republican Army killed Ian Gow, a Conservative MP.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Amess had an “outstanding record of passing laws to help the most vulnerable”.
“David was a man who believed passionately in this country and in its future,” Johnson said in a televised statement. “We’ve lost today a fine public servant and a much-loved friend and colleague.”
“We are shocked and saddened by the murder of Sir David Amess, who dedicated 40 years of his life to serving his community,” William and Kate, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, said in a statement. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends and colleagues.”
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