LONDON (AP) — The father of a man held for the fatal stabbing of a British lawmaker during a meeting with local voters told British media he was shocked and “traumatized” by his son’s arrest, as police continued questioning the suspect under terrorism laws.
Dozens of mourners attended a special church service Sunday in memory of 69-year-old Conservative lawmaker David Amess, who was stabbed to death Friday in what police have described as a terrorist attack.
British authorities have not released the name of the suspect, but British media reported the suspect is Ali Harbi Ali, 25, believed to be a British citizen with Somali heritage.
The Sunday Times reported that his father, Harbi Ali Kullane, a former adviser to Somalia’s prime minister, said British counter-terrorism police had visited him.
“I’m feeling very traumatized. It’s not something that I expected or even dreamed of,” he was quoted as saying.
Amess, a long-serving lawmaker, was stabbed multiple times during a regular meeting with his constituents at a church in Leigh-on-Sea, a town 40 miles (62 kilometers) east of London. The Metropolitan Police said early investigations suggested “a potential motivation linked to Islamist extremism," without giving details.
It is unclear what, if any, the suspect’s connection to Amess was and why he targeted the lawmaker. The meeting with voters was public and open to all.
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.
In a statement, the family of Amess said they were “absolutely broken” by the killing and urged people to be tolerant and “set aside hatred.”
“As a family, we are trying to understand why this awful thing has occurred. Nobody should die in that way," the statement said. “We ask people to set aside their differences and show kindness and love to all. This is the only way forward. Set aside hatred and work towards togetherness.”
In north London, police investigating the killing continued to search an apartment and another address, as officers stood guard outside.
Friday’s killing renewed concern about the risks politicians run as they go about their work. The attack came five years after