LONDON: British MP David Amess, 69, has died after being stabbed several times during a meeting with his constituents at a church in eastern England. A 25-year-old man has been arrested.
Reports said a man walked into Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea, south Essex, where Amess was holding a surgery with locals on Friday and attacked the politician.
Essex Police said in a statement that officers arrived on scene shortly after 12:05pm, when they received reports of a stabbing. Police arrested a man and recovered a knife.
“We are not looking for anyone else in connection with the incident and do not believe there is an ongoing threat to the wider public,” the statement said.
John Lamb, a local councillor at the scene told The Associated Press Amess had not been taken to hospital more than two hours after the attack and the situation was “extremely serious”. He said earlier that Amess was stabbed “several times”.
Amess has been a Member of Parliament for Southend West, which includes Leigh-on-Sea, since 1997, but has been a lawmaker since 1983.
He was a well-liked Member of Parliament, best known for his ceaseless campaign to have Southend declared a city.
His website lists his main interests are “animal welfare and pro-life issues”.
Violence against British politicians is rare, but in June 2016 Labour Party lawmaker Jo Cox was fatally stabbed and shot in her northern England constituency. A member of the far-right was convicted of her murder.
Officials from across the political spectrum hoped for Amess’s recovery.
Conservative Zac Goldsmith tweeted: “All my thoughts with David Amess and his family, a wonderful, kind and caring man, awful, awful news.”
“Horrific and deeply shocking news, thinking of David, his family and his staff,” said the leader of the opposition Labour Party, Keir Starmer.
Ed Davey, leader of the Liberal Democrats, said: “Sending my thoughts and prayers to David Amess, his family and friends, such shocking and terrible news.”
The Jo Cox Foundation tweeted that it was “horrified to hear the news of the attack on Sir David Amess MP. We are thinking of him, his family and loved ones at this distressing time”.
Cox’s widower, Brendan Cox, tweeted: “Attacking our elected representatives is an attack on democracy itself. There is no excuse, no justification. It is as cowardly as it gets.”
British lawmakers are protected by armed police when they are inside Parliament, but have no such protection in their constituencies. Amess published the times and locations of his open meetings with constituents on his website.
Two other British lawmakers have been attacked this century during their “surgeries,” regular meetings where constituents can present concerns and complaints. (Int’l Monitoring Desk)