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.

READ MORE: Police: Officer, another person hurt in Wisconsin shooting

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.

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19 PHOTOS
Notable death penalty executions and people on death row
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Knife attacker slashes man in London 'terrorist incident'
Seated on his bunk in the death cell of Iberia Parish Courthouse, convinced that 'The Lord is Still with Me,' is Willie Francis, a 17-year-old who won a million-to-one chance of a reprieve from death when the electric chair failed to kill him, or even hurt him, at his scheduled execution on May 3. Sentenced to die for the murder of a St. Martinville druggist a year ago, Francis was strapped in the chair. The current was applied. The doomed man squirmed and jumped. But when the current was shut off, he was unharmed. 'It tickled a little,' he said. The state will try again to carry out the execution on Thursday May 9th.

(Bettmann via Getty Images)

This is John Wayne Gacy's police arrest photo from Dec. 21, 1978. Following intensive research, investigation and surveillance, Gacy was arrested by the Des Plaines (Ill.) Police Department on Thursday, Dec. 21, 1978. After being charged with and serving time for 33 murders, Gacy was executed in 1994 by lethal injection. Today, Monday, Nov. 23, 1998, technicians began preliminary work on a possible excavation at an apartment building on Chicago's Northwest Side in search of as many as four more possible victims of the mass murderer. The apartment building at one time, was the home of Gacy's mother, and Gacy had done some construction work there. The information regarding the location was recently released from a retired Chicago police officer who said he had seen Gacy carrying a shovel near the area at about 3 a.m. one day in 1975. The former officer reportedly thought little of the Gacy sighting until three years later, when Gacy was charged with 33 murders. The apartment building is about four miles away from Gacy's house.

(Des Plaines Police Department, Tim Boyle)

A portrait of mass murderer Ted Bundy, responsible for a string of murders in Washington state, Utah, and Florida in the 1970s. He was executed in in Florida on January 24, 1989. His actual victim count remains unknown.

(Bettmann via Getty Images)

Aileen Wuornos is shown in this undated photograph from the Florida Department of Corrections. Wournos was executed by lethal injection October 9, 2002 in Florida for murdering six men when she was a prostitute.

(Photo by Florida DOC/Getty Images)

Admitted mass-slayer Charles Starkweather is shown entering court for the second day of his trial for murder. Starkweather admitted killing 11 people and was executed in Nebraska on June 25, 1959. 

(Bettmann via Getty Images)

Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh is shown being escorted from the Noble County Courthouse as he is transported to Oklahoma City for arraignment in this April 22, 1995 file photo. On June 11, 2001, McVeigh was executed after being sentenced to death for the bombing of a federal building in Oklahoma City, a crime that took 168 lives and shook a complacent America to the core.

(Jim Bourg / Reuters)

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

(Bettmann via Getty Images)

Media witnesses to the firing squad execution of John Albert Taylor examine the chair in which Taylor sat as he was shot to death at 12:03 a.m. Mountain time January 26 at the Unita State Penitentiary in Utah. The execution of Taylor was the first by firing squad in the United States since the 1977 execution of Gary Gilmore in Utah.

(POOL New / Reuters)

Stanley 'Tookie Williams' was responsible for several murders and other crimes and was executed in California on December 13, 2005. Williams helped found the Crips gang, but was later nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for his anti-gang efforts. He authored such books as 'Life in Prison,' encouraging kids to stay out of gangs, and his memoir 'Blue Rage, Black Redemption'.'

(Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Teresa Lewis, convicted of murdering her husband and stepson, was executed in Virginia on September 23, 2010. She was the first woman executed in the state in nearly 100 years.

(REUTERS/Virginia Department of Corrections/Handout)

William Bonin (left), a 33-year-old truck driver and registered sex offender, was accused of the 'torture' murders of at least 13 and possibly 21 young males, suspected victims of the so called 'Freeway Killer. He was executed in California on February 23, 1996.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department also said Vernon Butts (right) was an accomplice in at least six of the 21 murders.

(Bettmann via Getty Images)

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

(Photo by VCG Wilson/Corbis via Getty Images)

Major Nidal Malik Hasan, the U.S. Army psychiatrist charged in a mass shooting at the U.S. Army post in Fort Hood, Texas, was sentenced to death on August 28, 2013.

(Ho New / Reuters)

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

 (Photo provided by Kootenai County Sheriff's Department via Getty Images)

Coy Wesbrook was executed in 2016. He fatally shot five people in 1997 with a hunting rifle in a killing spree launched when he found his ex-wife having sex with other men.

(REUTERS/Texas Department of Criminal Justice/Handout via Reuters)

Dylann Roof, the man convicted of murdering nine worshippers at a historic black church in Charleston was condemned to death by a federal jury on January 10, 2017.

(REUTERS/Charleston County Sheriff's Office/Handout)

Death row inmate Ricky Gray is shown in this undated photo released in Washington, DC, U.S. in 2016. Virginia Department of Corrections/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. EDITORIAL USE ONLY.
Christopher Wilkins, 48, Texas death row inmate convicted of killing two people in a revenge plot after one had tricked him in a $20 drug deal, is shown in this undated photo in Huntsville, Texas, U.S.. Courtesy Texas Department of Criminal Justice/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. EDITORIAL USE ONLY.
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