Eyewitnesses today described seeing the "crazed" Woolwich attackers "hacking" at their victim and posing for pictures before charging at police wielding meat cleavers.

One onlooker, identified as James, said he saw two black men chopping at a man in his 20s like he was “a piece of meat”.

He told LBC radio: “They were hacking at this poor guy, literally.

“They were hacking at him, chopping him, cutting him.”

Describing the murderers as “animals”, he told how he saw them drag their victim from the pavement into the middle of the road.

“These two guys were crazed,” he said as he fought back tears.

They then stood around, waving knives and a gun, asking people nearby to take pictures of them “as if they wanted to be on TV or something”.

He said they were running up and down the road, urging people to take pictures.

“In my opinion, they were waiting for the police to arrive to be shot by the police. That’s the only thing I can think,” he said.

When armed police arrived 20 minutes later, “the man with the beanie hat, the tall guy, he charged at the police vehicle,” James said.

Another witness, Julia Wilders, 51, who lives near the scene, said she saw one of the attackers run towards police clutching two meat cleavers.

“He ran towards police before they could even get out of the car, and it looked like the other one was going to lift the gun up,” she said.

“We were driving back and my husband said to me ’don’t look, they’re resuscitating someone’. But apparently they were stabbing him.”

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