VIDEO: Terror task force launched as thousands honour soldier

A terror task force is to be launched to crack down on extremism after the horrific murder of Drummer Lee Rigby - as thousands lay flowers at the scene, writes Graham Walker.

Detectives have made three further arrests in connection with the brutal killing.

Floral tributes outside the main gate of the Royal Artillery Barracks in Woolwich, south-east London, near to the spot where Drummer Lee Rigby was hacked to death on Wednesday.Photo: John  STillwell/PA Wire.

Floral tributes outside the main gate of the Royal Artillery Barracks in Woolwich, south-east London, near to the spot where Drummer Lee Rigby was hacked to death on Wednesday.Photo: John STillwell/PA Wire.

And authorities in France are investigating whether the London murder was linked to an attack on a French soldier, who was stabbed in the neck in a busy shopping area near Paris yesterday.

Meanwhile, a wall of flowers lay near the spot where Drummer Rigby was was hacked to death as thousands of people continue to turn out in force to express their disgust and pay their respects where the young father was brutally slain.

Hundreds of more floral tributes have been placed outside Woolwich barracks in south-east London where he was based.

VIDEO: Press the play button to watch our video report from the scene.

Two men, aged 24 and 28, were detained at an address in south-east London yesterday, while a 21-year-old man was arrested in the street in Charlton Lane, Greenwich, all on suspicion of conspiracy to commit murder. The arrests came around 6pm yesterday.

Police from the Counter Terrorism Command, supported by specialist firearms officers, used Tasers to detain two of them, the 21 and 28-year-old. They did not need hospital treatment.

The arrests came as Downing Street confirmed the launch of the new terror task force.

It will be known as the Tackling Extremism and Radicalisation Task Force (TERFOR), according to the Mail on Sunday.

The group, which is expected to meet within weeks, will include Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, Home Secretary Theresa May, Chancellor George Osborne, other key Cabinet ministers, Metropolitan Police commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe and Andrew Parker, the director general of the Security Service.

Downing Street said the group would focus on practical measures rather than getting bogged down in theoretical debates about Britishness and cultural values.

It will examine what powers can be used to clamp down on extremist activity including how to tackle hate preachers, who seek out potential recruits in prisons, schools, colleges and mosques.

The Government wants work carried out to ensure religious leaders are not promoting extremist messages and wants mosque committees to be held to account for the choice of imams they make.

The Prime Minister has also announced that the parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) will carry out an investigation following the disclosure that the two men suspected of murdering Drummer Rigby - identified as Michael Adebolajo, 28, and Michael Oluwatobi Adebowale, 22 - were known to MI5.

Police last night refused to comment on reports that Adebowale was arrested two months ago.

A 29-year-old man arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to murder has now been released on bail, police said last night.

Two women aged 29 and 31 have been released without charge after they were held on Thursday on suspicion of conspiracy to murder, and a number of other people not directly involved with the attack have been charged over malicious comments made on social networking sites.

Adebolajo and Adebowale remain in a stable condition in hospital after being shot by police when they charged towards armed officers in Woolwich on Wednesday.

Drummer Rigby was hit by a car and then attacked with weapons including a knife and a meat cleaver.

The cause of his death has not yet been confirmed by a post-mortem examination.

The young father’s murder has provoked a backlash of anger across the country, with mosques being attacked, widespread racial abuse and comments on social media and a large increase in anti-Muslim incidents.

Up to 2,000 people took part in a EDL march in Newcastle yesterday, which had been planned before Wednesday’s attack,

EDL supporters sang “RIP Lee Rigby” as they marched through the city, waving Union flags and chanting “Whose streets? Our streets”, before holding a minute’s silence for the murdered soldier.

Police said there were no major incidents, with a small number of arrests related to alcohol and public order offences. Three people were held before the march for allegedly making racist tweets.

Meanwhile the BNP has been accused of cynically exploiting the killing to further its “own poisonous ends” after the far-right group announced it would be demonstrating in Woolwich next Saturday.

Drummer Rigby’s family have paid tribute to the soldier they described as their “hero”.

“Lee’s dream growing up was always to join the Army, which he succeeded in doing. He was dedicated and loved his job,” they said in a statement.

Drummer Rigby’s wife Rebecca, mother of their two-year-old son Jack, said through tears that he was “a devoted father”.

A book of condolence has been opened at Woolwich Town Hall, where opening hours have been extended over the bank holiday weekend to allow the public to pay their respects.

A service dedicated to the solider will be held at St Peter the Apostle Roman Catholic Church in Woolwich today, while prayers will also be said at Woolwich’s St Mary Magdalene Parish Church.

Donations to the Help for Heroes charity through the JustGiving page linked to the RIP Woolwich Soldier Facebook tribute page topped £102,000 today.

Almost £19,000 has also been raised on the official Help for Heroes JustGiving page.