LEIGH-ON-SEA, England (AP) — The father of a man held for the fatal stabbing of a British lawmaker during a meeting with local voters has told British media that he was shocked and “traumatized” by his son’s arrest, as police continued questioning the suspect under terrorism laws.
Harbi Ali Kullane, a former adviser to Somalia’s prime minister, said counter-terrorism police had visited him, according to the Sunday Times.
“I’m feeling very traumatized. It’s not something that I expected or even dreamed of,” he was quoted as saying.
British authorities have not released the name of the suspect in the fatal stabbing of 69-year-old Conservative lawmaker David Amess Friday, but British media reported the suspect was Ali Harbi Ali, 25, believed to be a British citizen with Somali heritage.
Amess, a long-serving lawmaker, was attacked during a regular meeting with his constituents at a church in Leigh-on-Sea, a town about 40 miles (62 kilometers) east of London.
The Metropolitan Police has described the attack as terrorism and said early investigations suggested “a potential motivation linked to Islamist extremism.”
It is unclear what, if any, the suspect’s connection to Amess was.
Police have been granted extra time to question the suspect, who was arrested on suspicion of murder but has not yet been charged. The BBC and others reported that the suspect was referred to a government program aimed at preventing people from supporting extremism some years ago, but said he was not a formal subject of interest for security services.
Many in the seaside town of Leigh-on-Sea have laid flowers in tribute to Amess, who has served in parliament since 1983 and was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2015. A church service in the town is planned for later Sunday. In London, police investigating the killing continued to search two addresses.
Friday’s killing renewed concern about the risks politicians run as they go about their work. The attack came five years after Labour lawmaker Jo Cox was killed by a far-right extremist in her constituency in West Yorkshire.
Home Secretary Priti Patel said Sunday that officials are reviewing security arrangements for lawmakers, and the measures being considered include police protection during regular meetings, known as “surgeries,” between lawmakers and their constituents.
But Patel added that she did not believe that the killing of Amess should change the relationship between lawmakers and their voters.
“This should never, ever break that link between an elected representative and their democratic role, responsibility and duty to the people who elected them,” she told Sky News on Sunday.
Lindsay Hoyle, Speaker of the House of Commons, said he was working closely with the Home Office and the police to identify ways to improve lawmakers’ safety.
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