Knife attacker slashes man in London 'terrorist incident'

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Stabbing in London Tube Station Investigated as 'Terrorist Incident'

LONDON (Reuters) -- A knife attacker slashed a man at an east London metro station, reportedly screaming "this is for Syria," in what police described as a terrorist incident, prompting the government to urge Britons on Sunday not to be intimidated by the attack.

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A pool of blood near the ticket barriers at the Leytonstone Underground station, about six miles (10 km) east of central London, could be seen in footage posted on Twitter that also showed the suspect confronting police officers on Saturday evening.

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London knife slashing at Leytonstone
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Knife attacker slashes man in London 'terrorist incident'
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - DECEMBER 05: Police officers and crime scene investigators investigate a crime scene at Leytonstone tube station in east London, England, on December 05, 2015 after a man was seriously injured in a knife attack and it is treated as a terror attack because the attacker reportedly shouted 'This is for Syria' during the attack. (Photo by Tolga Akmen/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - DECEMBER 05: Police officers and crime scene investigators investigate a crime scene at Leytonstone tube station in east London, England, on December 05, 2015 after a man was seriously injured in a knife attack and it is treated as a terror attack because the attacker reportedly shouted 'This is for Syria' during the attack. (Photo by Tolga Akmen/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - DECEMBER 05: Police officers and crime scene investigators investigate a crime scene at Leytonstone tube station in east London, England, on December 05, 2015 after a man was seriously injured in a knife attack and it is treated as a terror attack because the attacker reportedly shouted 'This is for Syria' during the attack. (Photo by Tolga Akmen/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - DECEMBER 05: Police officers and crime scene investigators investigate a crime scene at Leytonstone tube station in east London, England, on December 05, 2015 after a man was seriously injured in a knife attack and it is treated as a terror attack because the attacker reportedly shouted 'This is for Syria' during the attack. (Photo by Tolga Akmen/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - DECEMBER 05: Police officers and crime scene investigators investigate a crime scene at Leytonstone tube station in east London, England, on December 05, 2015 after a man was seriously injured in a knife attack and it is treated as a terror attack because the attacker reportedly shouted 'This is for Syria' during the attack. (Photo by Tolga Akmen/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - DECEMBER 05: Police officers and crime scene investigators investigate a crime scene at Leytonstone tube station in east London, England, on December 05, 2015 after a man was seriously injured in a knife attack and it is treated as a terror attack because the attacker reportedly shouted 'This is for Syria' during the attack. (Photo by Tolga Akmen/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - DECEMBER 05: Police officers and crime scene investigators investigate a crime scene at Leytonstone tube station in east London, England, on December 05, 2015 after a man was seriously injured in a knife attack and it is treated as a terror attack because the attacker reportedly shouted 'This is for Syria' during the attack. (Photo by Tolga Akmen/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
A man walks in Leytonstone station in north London on December 6, 2015. Police were called to reports of people being attacked at Leytonstone around 19:00 GMT on December 5. The police have said that they are considering a knife attack the previous evening as a ' terrorist incident' after reports that the man reportedly shouted 'this is for Syria'. The man was arrested after being Tasered by police. One man suffered serious knife injuries while two others received minor injuries. / AFP / LEON NEAL (Photo credit should read LEON NEAL/AFP/Getty Images)
A person walks outside Leytonstone station in north London on December 6, 2015. Police were called to reports of people being attacked at Leytonstone around 19:00 GMT on December 5. The police have said that they are considering a knife attack the previous evening as a ' terrorist incident' after reports that the man reportedly shouted 'this is for Syria'. The man was arrested after being Tasered by police. One man suffered serious knife injuries while two others received minor injuries. / AFP / LEON NEAL (Photo credit should read LEON NEAL/AFP/Getty Images)
A police car is seen parked outside Leytonstone station in north London on December 6, 2015. Police were called to reports of people being attacked at Leytonstone around 19:00 GMT on December 5. The police have said that they are considering a knife attack the previous evening as a ' terrorist incident' after reports that the man reportedly shouted 'this is for Syria'. The man was arrested after being Tasered by police. One man suffered serious knife injuries while two others received minor injuries. / AFP / LEON NEAL (Photo credit should read LEON NEAL/AFP/Getty Images)
A police car is seen parked outside Leytonstone station in north London on December 6, 2015. Police were called to reports of people being attacked at Leytonstone around 19:00 GMT on December 5. The police have said that they are considering a knife attack the previous evening as a ' terrorist incident' after reports that the man reportedly shouted 'this is for Syria'. The man was arrested after being Tasered by police. One man suffered serious knife injuries while two others received minor injuries. / AFP / LEON NEAL (Photo credit should read LEON NEAL/AFP/Getty Images)
A television crew broadcasts from outside Leytonstone station in north London on December 6, 2015. Police were called to reports of people being attacked at Leytonstone around 19:00 GMT on December 5, 2015. The police have said that they are considering a knife attack the previous evening as a ' terrorist incident' after reports that the man reportedly shouted 'this is for Syria'. The man was arrested after being Tasered by police. One man suffered serious knife injuries while two others received minor injuries. / AFP / LEON NEAL (Photo credit should read LEON NEAL/AFP/Getty Images)
A police officer stands guard outside Leytonstone station in north London on December 6, 2015, a day after three people were stabbed in what police are treating as a 'terrorist incident'. A man was being held in custody after three people were stabbed at a London Underground train station in an attack police were treating as a 'terrorist incident'.One eyewitness shouted 'You're no Muslim' at the suspect as he was pinned down by police officers at the suburban Leytonstone station, amateur video footage showed, while a pool of blood was seen in the ticket hall. / AFP / LEON NEAL (Photo credit should read LEON NEAL/AFP/Getty Images)
A police vehicle drives past Leytonstone station in north London on December 6, 2015. Police were called to reports of people being attacked at Leytonstone around 19:00 GMT on December 5, 2015. The police have said that they are considering a knife attack the previous evening as a ' terrorist incident' after reports that the man reportedly shouted 'this is for Syria'. The man was arrested after being Tasered by police. One man suffered serious knife injuries while two others received minor injuries. / AFP / LEON NEAL (Photo credit should read LEON NEAL/AFP/Getty Images)
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Police said initial reports indicated the man, believed to be aged 29, had also threatened other bystanders. One 56-year-old man suffered serious but not life-threatening injuries. Two other people had minor injuries, police said.

The man was arrested after police discharged a Taser which stuns suspects.

An eyewitness quoted by The Guardian and other British newspapers said the attacker appeared to claim that he was retaliating for Western air strikes on Islamist militants in Syria. Police declined to comment on those reports and it was not immediately possible to verify them independently.

British war planes joined the strikes on targets in Syria for the first time on Thursday, a few hours after parliament had approved the involvement.

Senior government minister Iain Duncan Smith said whatever the circumstances, Britons must not let the Leytonstone incident affect their behavior.

"We cannot let these sort of people, terrorists et cetera, actually dominate our space," he told the BBC. "The way we defeat them at the end of the day is with our values, our freedom of expression, our freedom of belief ... our ability to take our children, our families out at Christmas. None of that must be curtailed."

Nevertheless, the attack will draw parallels with the May 2013 murder of British army soldier Lee Rigby, who was hacked to death just south of the Thames River by two Muslim converts.

Britain is on its second-highest alert level of "severe," meaning a militant attack is considered highly likely, mainly because of the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Syria and Iraq who are encouraging supporters to attack the West.

Prime Minister David Cameron won parliamentary approval to bomb the Islamist State group in Syria after the group claimed responsibility for the attacks on Paris last month that killed 130 people.

In an interview with the Sunday Times newspaper, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad mocked Cameron's strategy in the region, saying it would make the situation worse, not better.

Watch more coverage:

London Tube Stabbing Being Treated as a 'Terrorist Incident'

THREAT TO BRITAIN?

Cameron said air strikes would not increase the chances of an attack on Britain, since militants already viewed the country as a top target with seven plots foiled over the past year.

An eyewitness to the knife attack was quoted as saying the attacker had screamed about Syria. "As he was coming out this is what he said: 'This is what happens when you f*** with mother Syria, all of your blood will be spilled'," the Guardian quoted an eyewitness as saying.

Two years ago, Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale ran over Fusilier Rigby near Woolwich Barracks before setting upon him with knives and a meat cleaver in an attempt to behead him. They were jailed for life last year.

British security services say about two-thirds of their time is spent countering international militants, much of that connected to Syria.

Britain's worst militant Islamist attack was in July 2005, when 52 people were killed by suicide bombs on underground trains and a bus.

Islamic State said on Saturday that the married couple who killed 14 people in a mass shooting in California, which U.S. authorities are investigating as an act of terrorism, were followers of the militant group.

RELATED: Photos from the deadliest mass shootings in history:

16 PHOTOS
Notable death penalty executions and people on death row
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Knife attacker slashes man in London 'terrorist incident'

Willie Francis, the first known incident of failed execution by lethal injection, was executed on May 9, 1947. He was sentenced to death for the murder of his former boss, Andrew Thomas. 

(AP Photo/File)

John Wayne Gacy, a rapist and serial killer responsible for the sexual assaults and murders of at least 33 men, was executed in Illinois on May 10, 1994. 

(AP Photo/File)

Ted Bundy, a kidnapper, rapist, and serial killer responsible for the assaults and murders of dozens of young women, was executed in in Florida on January 24, 1989. His actual victim count remains unknown.

(AP Photo/File)

Aileen Wuornos, a serial killer responsible for the deaths of seven men, was executed in Florida on October 9, 2002. 

(AP Photo/Peter Cosgrove)

Charles Starkweather, a spree killer responsible for eleven murders, was executed in Nebraska on June 25, 1959. 

(AP Photo/Don Ultang)

Timothy McVeigh, responsble for the Oklahoma City bombing, was executed in Indiana on June 11, 2001.

(AP Photo/File)

Thomas Provenzano, a convicted murderer responsible for shooting three people, was executed in Florida on June 21, 2000.

(AP Photo/Peter Cosgrove)

Gary Gilmore, responsible for the shooting deaths of two men, was executed in Utah on January 17, 1977.

(AP Photo)

Stanley "Tookie" Williams, founder and leader of the Crips gang responsible for several murders and other crimes, was executed in California on December 13, 2005.

(Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Teresa Lewis, convicted of murdering her husband and stepson, was executed in Virginia on September 23, 2010.

(AP Photo/Va Dept of Corrections)

William Bonin, a serial killer responsible for a minimum of 21 rapes and murders, was executed in California on February 23, 1996.

(AP Photo/File)

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, responsible for Boston Marathon bombing, was sentenced to death on May 15, 2015.

(AP Photo/Federal Bureau of Investigation, File)

Nidal Malik Hasan, responsible for Ford Hood shooting, was sentenced to death on August 28, 2013.

(AP Photo/Bell County Sheriff's Department, File)

Joseph E. Duncan III, a convicted murderer and sex offender, was sentenced to death on August 27, 2008.

(AP Photo/Kootenai County First Appearance Video Court)

Death row prisoner Coy Wayne Wesbrook is photographed Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2016, at the Texas Department of Criminal Justice Polunsky Unit outside Livingston, Texas. Wesbrook, 58, is set for lethal injection March 9, 2016, for the November 1997 fatal shootings of his ex-wife and another man at her apartment in Channelview, just east of Houston. They were among five people killed during the shooting rampage. (AP Photo/Michael Graczyk)
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