British politician Jo Cox dies after shooting and stabbing attack

Jo Cox, a British member of parliament has died after being shot and stabbed in her constituency in northern England on Thursday.

BIRSTALL, England — Jo Cox, an up-and-coming Labour member of the British parliament, died Thursday after being shot and stabbed repeatedly on the street in a village in northern England where she was meeting with local constituents.

In light of the tragedy, both the Vote Leave and Britain Stronger in Europe campaigns suspended activity ahead of next week’s “Brexit” vote over whether Britain should remain a part of the 28-member bloc of the European Union.

The 41-year-old mother of two was left bleeding on the pavement here in Birstall, 200 miles north of London. She was airlifted to a local hospital where she died about an hour after the shooting. A 77-year-old man was injured in the incident.

Violence against politicians is rare in Britain, as are gun attacks, and figures from all parts of the political spectrum expressed deep shock.

No serving U.K. member of Parliament has been killed since 1990, when Conservative lawmaker Ian Gow died after the Irish Republican Army placed a booby-trap bomb under his car outside his English home. A former lawmaker, Donald Kaberry, was injured in an IRA bombing in 1990 and died the next year.

Police arrested a 52 year-old local man identified as Tommy Mair. Neighbors described him as a “loner.”

Chief Constable Dee Collins said police believe the shooting was a “lone incident” and are not looking for anyone else in connection with the attack.

Clarke Rothwell, who runs a cafe near the murder scene, told the Press Association the assailant “was shouting ‘put Britain first.’ He shouted it about two or three times. He said it before he shot her and after he shot her.”

Collins declined to comment on the report. Britain First, a far-right group, said on its website that it was “not involved and would never encourage behaviour of this sort.”

Rothwell said the gunman, wearing a white baseball cap and jacket, fired three shots from an”old-fashioned-looking” hand gun, the final time at her head. Rothwell also told the BBC that he believed the attacker stabbed her multiple times.

Hichem Ben Abdallah, 56, a local restaurant owner, said a bystander was struggling with the shooter “who suddenly pulled a gun from his bag.” He said the weapon was not an ordinary gun, but “like the end of a walking stick.”

“I saw someone on the ground between two cars,” he said. “She had blood on her face and leg. I know Jo (Cox), but I didn’t know it was her at the time. He was kicking her as she was lying on the floor.”

It wasn’t clear if the attack was linked to the EU debate or whether Cox was deliberately targeted. The rival sides in the referendum on Britain and the EU have been canvassing feverishly ahead of what is expected to be a close vote. Cox campaigned for the “remain” camp.

Cox was one of the most outspoken lawmakers on the subject of the Syrian civil war, and was critical of Britain’s reluctance to deepen its military involvement against the Islamic State .

Prime Minister David Cameron said he was canceling a planned speech in Gibraltar after “the terrible attack.”

“Our thoughts and prayers are with Jo and her family,” he tweeted.

The incident occurred near a library where Cox was holding meetings with local residents.

“The whole of the Labour party and Labour family — and indeed the whole country — will be in shock at the horrific murder of Jo Cox today,” said Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. “Jo had a lifelong record of public service and a deep commitment to humanity. … Jo was dedicated to getting us to live up to our promises to support the developing world and strengthen human rights — and she brought those values and principles with her when she became an MP.”

Former U.S. congresswoman Gabby Gifford, who suffered brain injury from a gunshot to the head while meeting constituents at a Tucson-area supermarket in 2011, tweeted she was “absolutely sickened” to hear of Cox’s killing, describing her as a “rising star, mother, and wife.”

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