TODAY

TODAY   |  May 23, 2013

British soldier brutally killed in broad daylight

Two suspects allegedly brutally murdered a young soldier in London Monday with large knives as terrified witnesses looked on. Top British security officials are calling the murder a terrorist attack. NBC’s Michelle Kosinski reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> it's tough to look at, but this is video of that horrific attack. this morning, military officials are worried about what it may inspire, not only in london, but around the world.

>> the two suspects in custody are claiming their actions are in retaliation for the killing of muslims in afghanistan.

>> let us get to michelle kosinski in london. good morning to you.

>> reporter: hi, matt, the government here has called the brutal killing of the soldier in the middle of the day on a neighborhood street sickening and barbaric. this morning while police searched a home, top security officials met. the prime minister is calling this terrorism. police are asking the public for help, support, and calm.

>> move back. move back.

>> reporter: terror was the motive for this horrific attack. that is what it caused here. citizens screaming at police. one suspect, hands covered in blood holding large knives delivers a speech to cell phone camera in front of the young soldier's body.

>> that's eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth . i apologize that women had to witness this today, but in our land, our women have to see the same.

>> eyewitnesss say two men in a car knocked the soldier down on the sidewalk and then jumped out and started brutalizing him.

>> they were hacking at the poor guy, chopping him, cutting him.

>> some witnesses say the soldier was beheaded and the men asked people in the terrified crowd to take pictures. but a few women risked their own lives to try to help the soldier, guarded his body. and watch this woman bravely talking to one suspect. she is mother and cub scout leader who says she wanted to keep the men from hurting anyone else.

>> yeah, that's what you had. and blood all over him. and i thought what the heck happened there.

>> but it ended in more violence. police closed in. witnesses say the men tried to attack them, that one had a gun. police opened fire hitting both suspects who were taken to hospitals and arrested.

>> these are some of the most difficult attacks to stop. when two individuals do this with potentially no other connections to stop them when they're using things like knives and cleavers makes this almost impossible to stop beforehand.

>> it is early to try to characterize this, but terrorism analysts say attacks by small groups without strong ties to larger terror networks is a trend we've been seeing over the last several years. the boston bombing is one of them. and the uk has seen similar attacks. savannah?