AN ASSAULT on prison officers by two inmates wearing fake suicide belts at a maximum-security jail is being treated as a terror attack, say police.
One officer was knifed in the head, face and chest after he was set upon from behind by the prisoners armed with improvised bladed weapons at HMP Whitemoor in Cambridgeshire.
Four other staff, who were stabbed as they intervened, were also taken to hospital yesterday but have been released.
Scotland Yard counter-terrorism officers are investigating and Deputy Assistant Commissioner Dean Haydon confirmed today that it was being treated as a terror incident.
It is believed to be the first suspected terror attack of its kind inside a jail, although a home-made IRA bomb was exploded inside Crumlin Road Prison in Belfast in 1991.
One suspect at 458-capacity Whitemoor has been named in reports as convicted terrorist Brusthom Ziamani, 24, and the second is said to be a Muslim convert jailed for a violent offence.
Ziamani, a follower of radical preacher Anjem Choudary, was found guilty of planning a terror attack in 2015 over a plot to behead a British soldier.
Both attackers were wearing belts with ‘various items crudely attached’, the Metropolitan Police said.
Steve Gillan, general secretary of the Prison Officers’ Association, said: ‘I have received a full briefing on this cowardly and vicious attack and there is no doubt in my mind that, but for the bravery of staff, then this morning we could have been talking about a death of a prison officer at Whitemoor Prison.
‘This was an extremely serious attack on hard-working staff.’
A Prison Service spokesman said the incident was ‘quickly resolved by brave staff. He added: ‘We do not tolerate assaults on our hard-working officers and will push for the strongest possible punishment.’
The Met said it was ‘deemed appropriate’ for the investigation to be carried out by counter-terrorism officers.
A statement added: ‘The incident itself was quickly contained and dealt with by prison staff and, from our inquiries thus far, there is nothing to suggest any continuing threat inside or outside of the prison system linked to yesterday’s incident.
‘Both the prisoners suspected to have been involved in the attack remain in prison. No arrests have been made at this time.’
Ziamani was 19 when he was sentenced at the Old Bailey to 22 years, reduced to 19 on appeal, after he was arrested carrying a foot-long knife and a hammer in a rucksack.
The court was told he had researched the location of Army cadet bases in south-east London.
Earlier, he had shown his ex-girlfriend weapons, described fusilier Lee Rigby’s killer Michael Adebolajo as a ‘legend’, and told her he would ‘kill soldiers’.