News / Europe

British Security Services Under Scrutiny After Soldier's Murder

A police officer guards a block of flats in Greenwich following a raid in connection with the killing of a British soldier in nearby Woolwich, southeast London, May 23, 2013.A police officer guards a block of flats in Greenwich following a raid in connection with the killing of a British soldier in nearby Woolwich, southeast London, May 23, 2013.
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A police officer guards a block of flats in Greenwich following a raid in connection with the killing of a British soldier in nearby Woolwich, southeast London, May 23, 2013.
A police officer guards a block of flats in Greenwich following a raid in connection with the killing of a British soldier in nearby Woolwich, southeast London, May 23, 2013.
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VOA News
Britain's security services are facing questions over whether they could have done more to prevent the murder of a soldier hacked to death on a London street.

Senior British officials have said the two men detained in connection with Wednesday's murder had been identified earlier by security teams investigating suspected Islamist extremists.

Suspects Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale remain under guard in a hospital after police shot and arrested them following the attack. The victim, 25-year-old Lee Rigby, died at the scene.

Both suspects are said to have Nigerian roots. They are believed to have converted to Islam after being brought up Christian by their African immigrant families.

The murder in the working-class London neighborhood of Woolwich has raised fears in the community of a backlash against Muslims and people of African descent.  

Watch related video by VOA's Mary Motta about aftermath of the murder

Fear Still Grips Neighborhood in Aftermath of Murderi
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May 24, 2013
The murder of soldier Lee Rigby this week in the working-class neighborhood of Woolwich in Southeast London has raised fears in the community of a prolonged backlash against Muslims and people of African descent. The English Defense League rallied its followers to the streets of Woolwich on the night of the killing, and mosques have been targeted by lone far-right extremists across the country. VOA's Mary Motta visits the neighborhood where the murder took place and reports police presence is still heavy and some of the residents fear more violence.

A Nigerian immigrant living in London, David Doherty, told VOA the attack is not representative of Nigerians.

“Nigerians are not like that. We’re not like that. We are a peaceful people. If you say anything about Nigerians, Nigerians could be partying or enjoying themselves. But they are hard-working as well. But not like stabbing or anything. Nigerians are not involved. We are good people from a great nation,” said Doherty.

Woolwich is an ethnically diverse neighborhood in London.

Rigby, who had served in Afghanistan, was off-duty Wednesday afternoon at the time of the attack. He was rammed by a car and then hacked to death near an army barracks. Government officials said one of the attackers shouted "Allahu akbar," meaning "God is great" - as the soldier lay dying near him.

The government has said it believes the attack was a terrorist incident.

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