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Britain to tackle 'Islamist extremism' after soldier's murder

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - Britain plans to classify "Islamist extremism" as a distinct ideology, British Prime Minister David Cameron said on Tuesday, as part the government's response to the murder of a soldier on a busy London street.

It comes as shocking video emerged showing British soldier Lee Rigby's alleged killers charging at police with deadly weapons before being shot down.

One armed officer told the Old Bailey of the terrifying moments she thought she was going to die as Michael Adebolajo allegedly charged towards her with a machete or cleaver in his hands.

The officer, identified only as D49, said she “instinctively thought ‘he is going to kill me’.”

She said she was unable to release her Glock 17 pistol and was only saved when a fellow officer opened fire on the 28-year-old.

Moments later, the officer feared she would be shot dead by Adebolajo’s co-accused, Michael Adebowale, before ducking out of the firing line of her colleagues’ bullets aimed at the second defendant.

New dramatic security video shows Adebolajo and Adebowale being shot at by officers was shown to the jury on day three of their trial for the murder of Lee Rigby.

Adebowale raises his gun whilst on the floor. Photo: Metro Police.

Prime Minister Cameron said he would implement recommendations he had received from a task force he set up after the murder of Lee Rigby in May, to try to stop people being radicalised by "hate preachers".

Adebolajo and Adebowale are on trial for the killing. A court heard that one of them said it was an "eye for an eye" and revenge for what they considered to be Britain's wars against Muslims. Both have pleaded not guilty.

"This summer we saw events that shocked the nation," Cameron, who is in China on a trade trip, told reporters.

"These tragedies were a wakeup call for government and wider society to take action to confront extremism in all its forms, whether in our communities, schools, prisons, Islamic centres or universities."

"Islamist extremism" would, for the first time, be classified as a distinct ideology to guard against it being confused with traditional religious practice, he said.

Cameron wants to tackle violent ideologies that claim Islamic justification but by doing so in a way that does not alienate Britain's 2.7 million Muslims.

The new definition would make it clear that "Islamist extremism" was a distorted interpretation of Islam that betrayed the religion's principles and tried to sow division.

Britain will also draw on techniques it has used to fight online pornography to make it easier for people to report material deemed extremist and work with Internet providers to create filters to allow people to block such content.

Relatives of murdered fusilier Lee Rigby; Stepfather Ian Rigby, mother Lyn Rigby, sister Sara McLure and fiancee Aimee West arrive at the Old Bailey. Photo: Getty Images

Officials said the police could be given new powers to target "extremism" and that the government would consider introducing a new type of ban to outlaw radical groups.

"There are just too many people who have been radicalised at Islamic centres, who have been in contact with extremist preachers, who have come across material on the Internet who haven't been sufficiently challenged," Cameron said.

"I want to see an end to hate preaching in Britain."

(Editing by Robin Pomeroy)