British MP Jo Cox dies after attack; EU referendum campaign on hold

Ms Cox was flown by air ambulance to a nearby hospital but died from her injuries.
Police outside the library in the village of Birstall in Yorkshire where pro-EU MP Jo Cox was attacked yesterday. A witness told the BBC that she was shot three times and stabbed by a man in his 50s.PHOTO: REUTERS
Police outside the library in the village of Birstall in Yorkshire where pro-EU MP Jo Cox was attacked yesterday. A witness told the BBC that she was shot three times and stabbed by a man in his 50s.
Ms Cox was flown by air ambulance to a nearby hospital but died from her injuries.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

LONDON • A pro-European Union Labour lawmaker has died after she was shot and stabbed in her constituency in northern England yesterday, prompting the suspension of campaigning for next week's Brexit referendum.

Ms Jo Cox, 41, a mother of two and the Labour MP for Batley and Spen, was shot three times and also stabbed by a man in his 50s in the village of Birstall in Yorkshire, a witness told the BBC.

Another witness, Mr Hichem Ben Abdallah, told the Press Association that she was shot twice.

Police announced at a press conference a few hours after the incident that Ms Cox had died from her injuries.

Earlier, a police spokesman said that a 52-year-old man had been arrested in connection with the attack.

The local police chief said a full investigation into the incident was under way to establish a motive for the attack.

A 77-year-old man was also injured during the incident.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said on Twitter that he was "utterly shocked by the news of the attack on Jo Cox".

Mr Clarke Rothwell, a cafe owner in Birstall, told the BBC that he was alerted to the incident by a "loud popping noise that sounded like a balloon burst - a loud balloon".

"When I looked round, there's a man there in his 50s with a white baseball cap on and a jacket with a gun, an old-fashioned-looking gun in his hand," he said.

"He shot this lady once and then he shot her again, he fell to the floor, leant over, shot her once more in the face area.

"Somebody tried to grab him, wrestling with him and then he wielded a knife, like a hunting knife, just started lunging at her with a knife half a dozen times. People were screaming and running from the area."

The BBC said Ms Cox was flown by air ambulance to a nearby hospital.

British Prime Minister David Cameron said her death was a tragedy and cancelled a rally he had planned in Gibraltar as part of his campaign for Britain to stay in the EU on June 23.

Ms Cox was in favour of the "Remain" campaign, which suspended all campaigning activities yesterday, although it was unclear whether the attack was related to the referendum.

Sky News television quoted unconfirmed reports from witnesses that Ms Cox's killer shouted "Britain first" - possibly a reference to British sovereignty, although there is also a far-right party called Britain First.

A spokesman for the "Vote Leave" group, which is backing a so-called Brexit, said that its "battle bus" had stopped campaigning for the day. The attack took place near the town's library where Ms Cox regularly held meetings with constituents.

Most British MPs have little or no security but attacks on them are extremely rare.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 17, 2016, with the headline 'British MP dies after attack; EU referendum campaign on hold'. Print Edition | Subscribe