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Suspect in Stabbing Death of British MP Amess Identified

People light candles at a vigil in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, England, Oct. 16, 2021, to honor British Conservative lawmaker David Amess, who died after being stabbed Friday.

A British member of Parliament died Friday after being stabbed several times at a church in what police said Saturday was a terrorist attack.

David Amess, 69, was a member of the Conservative Party and represented Southend West in Essex, England. He was attacked Friday while visiting constituents in his home district in southeastern Britain, officials said.

In a statement Saturday, the Metropolitan Police said that while their investigation was in its early stages, it “has revealed a potential motivation linked to Islamist extremism.”

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson called Amess one of the “kindest, nicest and most gentle people in politics” and noted his efforts to end cruelty to animals. “All our hearts are full of shock and sadness today at the loss of Sir David Amess,” Johnson said.

Police have identified a 25-year-old suspect, Ali Harbi Ali, who is in custody. The man, of Somali heritage, had previously been referred to Prevent, the BBC reported. Prevent is a counterterror program in the U.K. designed to deradicalize those at risk of being recruited by extremist groups [[ ]]. It is unclear how long Ali was in the program.

Amess, who had been a member of Parliament since 1983, was married and had five children.

Amess is the second member of Parliament to be killed in five years. Jo Cox was murdered by one of her constituents, a far-right extremist, five years ago.

Some information in this report came from The Associated Press and Reuters.