LONDON — A knife attack on a British prison officer by two inmates wearing fake suicide belts is being treated as a terrorist attack, police said Friday.
Two prisoners wielding improvised bladed weapons slashed the officer’s head and neck in Thursday’s attack at the maximum security Whitemoor prison in eastern England.
Four other prison staff were injured as they stepped in and detained the attackers, and were taken to hospital alongside the original victim. All five officers have now been released.
One of the suspects was named by media as Brusthom Ziamani, 24, a follower of radical preacher Anjem Choudary who was convicted in 2015 of plotting to behead a British soldier.
The other suspect was reported to be a Muslim convert jailed for a violent offence.
“The matter is being treated as a terrorist attack and the investigation continues at pace,” said London’s Metropolitan Police, which leads on national counter-terrorism matters.
“The incident itself was quickly contained and dealt with by prison staff.
“From our inquiries thus far, there is nothing to suggest any continuing threat inside or outside of the prison system linked to yesterday’s incident.”
The suspects remain in prison and no arrests have been made, police said.
There has been a sharp increase in prisoners convicted of terrorism-related offences in the past few years, sparking growing concerns that other inmates may become radicalized.
The government has trained almost 20,000 staff in extremism awareness training, and employs multi-faith chaplaincy teams in all prisons.
It also opened two Separation Centers where individuals considered to pose the biggest risk are kept away from the main prison population.