Counterterrorism police are investigating a Thursday assault on prison staff at a maximum security prison in Cambridgeshire, England.

Two prisoners attacked a prison officer at HMP Whitemoor prison with what the Prison Officers Association described in a media release as “bladed weapons.”

The prisoners were also wearing what appeared to be suicide belts that were later determined to be fake.

London’s Metropolitan Police said in a statement: “The matter is being treated as a terrorist attack and the investigation continues at pace,” according to Reuters.

“This was a sustained vicious and cowardly attack on brave Prison staff which resulted in hospital attendance for five members of staff,” the POA media release read.

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“Had it not been for the brave intervention of staff at the prison this attack could have been much worse.”

All five of the staff members had been released from the hospital as of Friday morning.

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The attack occurred Thursday morning while cells were unlocked, the BBC reported.

One of the two inmates suspected of attacking a prison officer had been jailed for preparing an act of terrorism in 2015 after he converted to Islam in 2014. Brusthom Ziamani was sentenced to 22 years in prison, but the sentencing was later reduced on appeal.

The other prisoner who allegedly helped Ziamani in the attack was a Muslim convert who had been imprisoned for a violent offense.

According to Reuters, Britain announced plans in 2016 to isolate radical Islamists in separate units to limit their ability to influence other inmates.

The counterterrorism command unit of the Metropolitan Police was sent to HMP Whitemoor “due to certain circumstances relating to this incident,” police said in a statement.

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“The incident was quickly resolved by our brave staff and our thoughts are with the injured officers at this time,” a prison service spokesman said.

“We do not tolerate assaults on our hardworking officers and will push for the strongest possible punishment.”

The call for maximum punishment for the attackers was echoed by the general secretary of the POA, Steve Gillan.

“Whilst a Police investigation is ongoing it would be wrong to comment further but suffice to say the POA has long campaigned for correct charges to be attributed to the perpetrators and once charges are laid and proven through the courts that the maximum sentences are given to protect our hard working and brave members,” Gillan said in the news release.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson tweeted, “My thoughts are with the prison staff who were injured in the suspected terrorist incident at HMP Whitemoor and I would like to thank them, and the emergency services, for their courageous response. We owe those who keep us safe a huge debt of gratitude.”

HMP Whitemoor houses more than 400 Category A and B prisoners in its three wings, The Guardian reported.

In England, Category A prisoners “are those that would pose the most threat to the public” if they were to escape, according to Prisoners’ Families Helpline.

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