London set for funeral of soldier killed on street

Lee Rigby's widow Rebecca Rigby, clutching a soft toy as they look at floral tributes left by well wishers outside Woolwich Barracks, soon after his death, in May. Photo / AP
Lee Rigby's widow Rebecca Rigby, clutching a soft toy as they look at floral tributes left by well wishers outside Woolwich Barracks, soon after his death, in May. Photo / AP

Friends and family of a British soldier murdered on a London street in a suspected Islamist attack will pay their respects at his funeral in northern England on Friday.

Lee Rigby, 25, was hacked to death in broad daylight near his barracks in Woolwich, southeast London, on May 22.

Onlookers in Bury applauded his cortege on Thursday as it made its way to Bury Parish Church, escorted by drummers. The coffin was decorated with floral tributes spelling the words "brother", "son" and "husband".

His family attended a service that afternoon, ahead of Friday's full military ceremony.

The body of Fusilier Rigby was at his regiment's garrison church in Bury for an overnight vigil.

Two men, Michael Adebowale, 22, and Michael Adebolajo, 28, have been charged with his murder.

Police say there has been a rise in "Islamophobic crime" since Rigby's killing.

His death has also sparked political controversy, with critics of the far-right English Defence League (EDL) accusing the movement of trying to exploit the killing.

The EDL campaigns against what it says is the spread of radical Islam in Britain. But it has been accused of Islamophobia and previous rallies have ended in clashes with anti-fascist groups.

- AFP

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