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Police have been given six more days to question the man suspected of murdering Sir David Amess in a terrorist attack amid reports he had previously been referred to the government’s counterterrorism scheme, Prevent.
The 25-year-old is being detained for questioning at a London police station under section 41 of the Terrorism Act 2000.
He was arrested at the scene of the attack on the MP, who was fatally stabbed while meeting his constituents during a surgery at Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, at around midday on Friday.
The incident has been officially declared as terrorism and the Metropolitan Police’s Counter Terrorism Command is leading the investigation.
Police have not yet confirmed the identity of the suspect, a British national of Somali heritage, but his name was reported to be Ali Harbi Ali.
It is understood he had been referred to Prevent, the government’s anti-terrorism scheme which seeks to divert people away from extremism. However it is unclear how well he was known to counterterrorism police or security services.
The suspect is said to have lived in a residential street in the London borough of Camden. The Sunday Times reported that his father is a former Somalian government minister. “I’m feeling very traumatised,” the father told the newspaper. “It’s not something that I expected or event dreamt of.”
On Saturday night the Met said in a statement that they had been granted further time to question the suspect.
“Detectives were granted a warrant of further detention at Westminster Magistrates’ Court, allowing them to keep the man in custody until Friday, 22 October, when the warrant expires,” the force said.
“As part of the fast-paced investigation, officers have attended three addresses in the London area and conducted searches. One of these searches has concluded and the others are ongoing. A post-mortem examination has taken place today.
“Detectives would urge any witnesses or anyone with information about this incident to contact police. If you have any information that could assist the investigation, please call police in confidence on 0800 789 321.”
Sir David, a father-of-five, was the second sitting MP to be killed in five years, following the murder of Labour MP Jo Cox outside a constituency surgery in Birstall West Yorkshire in 2016.
On Saturday morning the prime minister Boris Johnson, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, home secretary Priti Patel and Commons speaker Lindsay Hoyle visited the scene of the attack to pay their respects.
Ms Patel said security measures were being put in place to protect MPs but vowed they would not be “cowed” by the attack.