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British Labour politician Jo Cox killed in shooting near Leeds

The Labour Party lawmaker was killed by an attacker whose motivations are still unclear. The campaign for the European Union referendum has been suspended.
Jo Cox à Westminster le 12 mai 2015. (Yui Mok/Press Association/Handout via Reuters)

British lawmaker Jo Cox was killed by a man who shot and stabbed her ahead of a meeting in her constituency in northern England on Thursday, West Yorkshire police said.

The 41-year-old member of parliament for the opposition Labour Party was attacked as she prepared to hold a meeting with constituents in Birstall, near the northern city of Leeds. She was taken to a nearby hospital in critical condition, and died shortly after. The attack, whose motivations remain unclear, has led the government to suspend the campaign for next week's referendum on whether the United Kingdom should remain in the European Union.


West Yorkshire Police said a 52-year-old man had been arrested.

Blurry photos and videos posted on social media showed the arrest of a man in a grey t-shirt near the scene. During an evening press conference announcing that Cox had died, police also said they were not looking for any additional suspects.

A man in his late 40s to early 50s nearby also suffered slight injuries, police said.

One eyewitness told the Press Association that Cox had intervened in a scuffle between two men, one of whom had pulled a gun from a bag. The gun then fired twice. According to other, as yet unconfirmed, reports, the man who shot and stabbed her shouted "Britain first!" — an apparent reference to the right-wing movement of the same name. Its leader Paul Golding immediately denied in a video statement that his party had anything to do with the attack, and wished Cox—before it was known that she had died—a speedy recovery.

TV footage showed the surrounding area had been sealed off.

Police stand behind a cordon isolating the area where MP Jo Cox was attacked in Birstall near Leeds, June 16, 2016. Photo by Craig Brough/Reuters

Cox was a Cambridge University graduate and was an aid worker before becoming Labour lawmaker in 2015. Known for her work on women's issues, Cox has worked with several charities.

This afternoon following the attack, Cox's husband posted a photo, without a caption, of her standing next to their houseboat on the River Thames:
— Brendan Cox (@MrBrendanCox) June 16, 2016

Just one day earlier, the MP posted a photo showing the couple and their children on a boat with a flag reading "In," referencing the campaign in favor of Britain staying in the European Union. In the post she wrote "My hubby @MrBrendanCox & children taking part in the battle of the #Thames - because we're #StrongerIn #Remain." Supporters of the Leave and Remain campaigns had faced off on boats in the Thames ahead of the June 23 referendum on British membership in the Union. The campaign for that referendum has been suspened in the wake of the killing.


My hubby @MrBrendanCox & children taking part in the battle of the #Thames - because we're #StrongerIn #Remain
— Jo Cox MP (@Jo_Cox1) June 15, 2016

British lawmakers are currently not in parliament, ahead of next week's referendum. The campaign in favor of keeping Britain in the European Union said it was suspending all referendum campaigning for the day after news emerged about Cox. The official campaign to leave the EU said it would also stop campaigning.

"We are suspending all campaigning for the day. Our thoughts are with Jo Cox and her family," Britain's Stronger In, the campaign to remain in the EU, wrote on Twitter.

Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn said he was "utterly shocked" by reports of the attack.

"The death of Jo Cox is a tragedy. She was a committed and caring MP (Member of Parliament). My thoughts are with her husband Brendan and her two young children," British Prime Minister David Cameron wrote on Twitter.