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Leaders pay tribute to British lawmaker who was stabbed to death

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Lawmakers in the United Kingdom offered prayers on Saturday in memory of their long-time colleague who was stabbed to death on Friday. They paid tribute at the church where David Amess, a conservative British member of Parliament, was meeting with constituents at the time he was attacked. Conservative Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the leader of the main opposition Labour Party, Keir Starmer, and the non-partisan speaker of the House of Commons, Lindsay Hoyle, all laid flowers.

Labour Party Leader Keir Starmer and Prime Minister Boris Johnson arrive to lay flowers outside the Belfair Methodist Church following the stabbing of UK Conservative MP Sir David Amess as he met with constituents, on October 16, 2021 in Leigh-on-Sea, England.  / Credit:  Getty Images
Labour Party Leader Keir Starmer and Prime Minister Boris Johnson arrive to lay flowers outside the Belfair Methodist Church following the stabbing of UK Conservative MP Sir David Amess as he met with constituents, on October 16, 2021 in Leigh-on-Sea, England. / Credit: Getty Images

Police say Amess died at the scene, where they arrested a 25-year-old suspect who they believe acted alone, Roxana Saberi reports.

Authorities have declared it a terrorist incident and said a preliminary investigation "revealed a potential motivation linked to Islamist extremism." They have not named the suspect.

Amess, who was 69, was known for his hardline views on Brexit, and for campaigning for animal welfare. His murder has stunned his community, and Britain's political establishment. "One thing we do know: Nothing will stop democracy," said Hoyle. "Nothing will stop us carrying out our duties." But it's also sparking calls for tighter security. Just over five years ago, Labor MP Jo Cox was shot and stabbed by a far-right extremist while also meeting with constituents. Her sister, Kim Leadbeater, became an MP this year. "It's really important that we get good people in public life, but this is the risk that we're all taking. ... And so many MPs today will be scared by this," said Leadbeater. Authorities now plan to review lawmakers' security. MPs get police protection while in parliament, but typically travel without it when they go home to meet with voters.

Contributing: The Associated Press

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