48-year-old mum kept London attackers talking to prevent more carnage

LONDON - A 48-year-old mother of two has emerged as a heroine of Wednesday's suspected terrorist attack in London.

Mrs Ingrid Loyau-Kennett kept the attackers engaged in conversation and tried to reason with them to prevent further bloodshed.

Britain's Telegraph newspaper reported that she put her own life on the line by trying to persuade the soldier's murderers to hand over their weapons.

A cub scout leader, she kept her nerve as one of them told her: "We want to start a war in London tonight."

Mrs Loyau-Kennett, from Cornwall, was photographed by onlookers confronting one of the attackers who was holding a bloodied knife.

She was one of the first people on the scene after the two attackers butchered a soldier in Woolwich, south east London on Wednesday.

She was riding on a bus which was travelling past the scene, and jumped off to check the soldier's pulse, thinking he had been hurt in a traffic accident.

She told The Telegraph: "Being a cub leader I have my first aid so when I saw this guy on the floor I thought it was an accident then I saw the guy was dead and I could not feel any pulse.

"And then when I went up there was this black guy with a revolver and a kitchen knife, he had what looked like butcher's tools and he had a little axe, to cut the bones, and two large knives and he said 'move off the body'.

"So I thought 'OK, I don't know what is going on here' and he was covered with blood. I thought I had better start talking to him before he starts attacking somebody else. I thought these people usually have a message so I said 'what do you want?'

"I asked him if he did it and he said yes and I said why? And he said because he has killed Muslim people in Muslim countries, he said he was a British soldier and I said really and he said 'I killed him because he killed Muslims and I am fed up with people killing Muslims in Afghanistan they have nothing to do there."

When Mrs Loyau-Kennett arrived on the scene, the attackers were roaming the street, seeking a final confrontation with the police.

She told The Telegraph: "I started to talk to him and I started to notice more weapons and the guy behind him with more weapons as well. By then, people had started to gather around. So I thought OK, I should keep him talking to me before he noticed everything around him.

"He was not high, he was not on drugs, he was not an alcoholic or drunk, he was just distressed, upset. He was in full control of his decisions and ready to everything he wanted to do.

"I said 'right now it is only you versus many people, you are going to lose, what would you like to do?' and he said I would like to stay and fight."

When the man went on to speak to someone else, Mrs Loyau-Kennett turned to engage the other attacker.

She said: "The other one was much shier and I went to him and I said 'Well, what about you? Would you like to give me what you have in your hands?'

"I did not want to say weapons but I thought it was better having them aimed on one person like me rather than everybody there, children were starting to leave school as well."

Some other women in the crowd also showed extraordinary courage, shielding the soldier's body as the killers stood over them.

British MPs have praised their "extraordinary bravery" and raised concerns about why it took armed police 20 minutes to arrive at the scene while people's lives were at risk.

The Telegraph quoted Mr Keith Vaz, the Labour chairman of the Home Affairs select committee, as saying: "We are all grateful for the local people who responded so quickly.

"It shows the spirit of London that people are just not prepared to allow an attack of this kind. I pay tribute to what they have done."