Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

FANATICS 'WERE HUNTING SOLDIERS TO KILL'; WOOLWICH ATTACK NEIGHBOUR SAYS TERROR PAIR FOLLOWED HIM WEEKS BEFORE DRUMMER WAS HACKED TO DEATH IN STREET; 'Killers' Plotted Attack in London Flat Where One Lived with Mother; EXCLUSIVE

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

FANATICS 'WERE HUNTING SOLDIERS TO KILL'; WOOLWICH ATTACK NEIGHBOUR SAYS TERROR PAIR FOLLOWED HIM WEEKS BEFORE DRUMMER WAS HACKED TO DEATH IN STREET; 'Killers' Plotted Attack in London Flat Where One Lived with Mother; EXCLUSIVE

Article excerpt

Byline: John Dunne, Benedict Moore-Bridger and Justin Davenport

THE Woolwich suspects were "hunting soldiers" in the weeks leading up to the slaughter of Army drummer Lee Rigby, it was claimed today.

Neighbour Paul Ramsamy, 46, told today how the pair confronted him after apparently mistaking him for a squaddie in combat trousers and boots. The father of two claimed Michael Adebowale, 22, and Michael Adebolajo, 28, had pursued him in a Greenwich street as he walked home.

He said: "They followed me for about 50 metres and approached me together. They looked very serious, like they meant business. They looked at my camouflage trousers and boots. I then thought they just wanted me to buzz them into the flat block but that was obviously not the case.

"When I saw what happened in Woolwich I recognised them and realised how lucky I have been. They must have been hunting for soldiers to attack when they followed me.

"I realise now what a lucky escape I had. They were obviously looking for a soldier to attack in the time before they struck. They were whispering to each other when they walked away. It was very scary.

"They obviously saw I was not a soldier and let me go. They could have followed me into the lift and attacked me. I feel lucky to be alive."

The alleged confrontation took place two months ago and is said to show that the suspects may have been plotting an attack for some time. The develop-ment emerged as the victim's family today spoke of their pride in him.

Drummer Rigby, who served in Afghanistan, died in the street after he was hacked to death on Wednesday afternoon in Woolwich. Adebowale, an ex-London schoolboy, and Adebolajo were shot as they rushed armed police.

The pair are thought to have plotted the attack in Adebowale's flat in Greenwich, which was raided by up to 20 heavily armed officers yesterday.

Neighbours said both were regularly seen at the address where Adebowale was living with his mother Juliet. He and Adebolajo -- who is also said to have been a drug dealer and robber -- attended Greenwich University, though it is not known how they met.

Both suspects have been arrested for murder and today remain under armed guard at separate London hospitals.

Details of their backgrounds emerged as tributes continued to flood in for the soldier murdered 200 yards from Woolwich barracks.

Drummer Rigby, 25, a married father from Manchester with a two-year-old son called Jack, was from 2nd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, and was attached to the Regimental Recruiting Team in London.

Dramatic new footage also emerged of the moment the two suspects were shot by firearms officers.

The 10-second film shows Adebolajo sprinting at officers head-on with a knife as Adebowale walks forward and aims a gun at them. …

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