UK MP dies after being shot and stabbed by attacker

Jo Cox
Jo Cox

BRITISH Labour MP Jo Cox has died after she was shot and stabbed in an attack in her constituency.

One eyewitness said the 41-year-old mother of two was left lying in a pool of blood on the pavement after her assailant shot her twice after first assaulting her outside her advice surgery in Birstall, West Yorkshire.

A second witness reported three shots, including one "round the head area".

West Yorkshire Police said a 52-year-old man was arrested in connection with the attack, which happened near the town's library.

Hichem Ben Abdallah said: "He was kicking her as she was lying on the floor."

He said that after a bystander intervened, the attacker produced a gun, stepped back and shot her twice.

There are some reports that the attacker shouted 'Britain First' a number of times during the incident.

Mr Abdallah, 56, was in the cafe next door to the library when he heard screaming and went outside.

He told the Press Association: "There was a guy who was being very brave and another guy with a white baseball cap who he was trying to control and the man in the baseball cap suddenly pulled a gun from his bag.

"He was fighting with her and wrestling with her and then the gun went off twice."

He added: "I came and saw her bleeding on the floor."

Mr Abdallah said the weapon looked handmade and that the man who had been wrestling with the assailant continued to do so even after he saw the gun.

He said: "The man stepped back with the gun and fired it and then he fired a second shot. As he was firing he was looking down at the ground."

He was: "He was kicking her and he was pulling her by her hair."

He said a "very courageous man" tried to restrain him but "he couldn't stop him because all of a sudden he pulled a gun. She was a standing still target for him when he shot her."

The whole incident lasted about 15 to 20 minutes, Mr Abdallah said. He said another bystander told him Ms Cox had also been stabbed.

Another eyewitness, Clarke Rothwell, who runs a nearby cafe, told the BBC he believed the MP had been shot and stabbed multiple times.

He said: "Three times she was shot, the initial time which then she dropped to the floor and two more times. The third time he got close proximity he shot her round the head area."

He added: "In the meantime he was stabbing her as well, he was stabbing her with his knife."

Mr Rothwell said there was blood everywhere at the scene.

Asked if he thought Ms Cox had intervened in a dispute he said he understood the altercation was "always between the guy carrying the gun and the lady that got shot".

Ms Cox was elected to the seat of Batley and Spen at the last general election in 2015.

She was a Remain supporter in the referendum and both official campaigns have suspended their operations as a mark of respect following the attack on her.

She was married with two children, graduated from Cambridge University in 1995 and has worked as an adviser for former Labour prime minister Gordon Brown's wife, Sarah, and Baroness Kinnock.

Ms Cox has been a vocal advocate for the victims of the Syrian civil war and abstained in last autumn's contentious vote on allowing British military action in Syria

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said the country would be "in shock at the horrific murder" of MP Jo Cox, who was a "much loved colleague".

Images circulating on social media apparently showed the gunman being detained, his bag close to where two police officers were holding him.

David Cameron tweeted to say he has cancelled a planned EU rally in Gibraltar in the wake of the attack.

He tweeted: "It's right that all campaigning has been stopped after the terrible attack on Jo Cox. I won't go ahead with tonight's rally in Gibraltar."

The Great North Air Ambulance Service said a helicopter with a "trauma team", consultant anaesthetist and carrying blood and plasma, was sent to the scene but was stood down on the outskirts of Leeds.

Speaking to reporters,  Taoiseach Enda Kenny - who was campaigning in England - described the incident as an "appalling crime".

"I have heard about the shooting and the stabbing of Jo Cox in West Yorkshire. This is an appalling crime on a public representative going about her duty, a mother of two young children." he said.

Mr Kenny informed reporters that he would be making no further comment about ''Brexit' in order to respect the decision taken by the 'Leave' and 'Remain' campaigns.

"I also understand that the 'Remain' campaign and 'Leave' campaign have cancelled their campaigns for today. So out of respect for those decisions, I will not make any further reference to the referendum to be held next week during the course of my remaining duties here today."

The Fine Gael leader said the issue will be looked at again tomorrow.

Mr Kenny is attending a business event in Manchester tonight.