Diners eating at a London cafe feared for their lives after rival gangs clashed in the road outside.
At least four people, one armed with an 18-inch machete, began fighting on Friday afternoon as onlookers watched on in horror.
During the scuffle, a man was seen swinging a machete wildly as rival gang members attempted to take a black bag he was carrying.
Three of them, two armed with knives, pursued the man as he clutched the bag around a black 4×4 before they all fled scene moments before police arrived.
Eyewitnesses, who watched in horror from the Bread by Bike cafe opposite in Tufnell Park, north London, said the fight appeared to be a turf war or a heated argument over drugs.
One man, who asked not to be named, said: ‘I was sitting in a cafe with my wife and three-month-old baby and suddenly everyone started screaming and watching in horror as this guy with a machete was fighting these two other guys.
‘It was like some sort of territorial dispute and they were trying to get a black bag off him but he managed to fight them off.
‘I don’t know what was in the bag but I imagine it was drugs, money or both, it certainly wasn’t nappies.
‘People were screaming and shouting ‘lock the doors, lock the doors’ they thought it was a terrorist attack.
‘That machete has to have been about 18 inches long and he was swinging it round and everyone was just thinking what the hell is going on?
‘But the guy in the helmet and the bloke in the tracksuit had knives too.’
During the ordeal, which lasted for several minutes, around 25 people in the cafe began to panic and were screaming in fear.
Believing it could be a terrorist attack, many began to take refuge in the kitchen and back of the cafe whilst staff desperately called police.
Armed police arrived at the scene too late to catch the men and are now appealing for witnesses.
The eyewitness added: ‘There were around 25 people in this cafe panicking, some people were running to the back of the shop and my wife took my three-month-old daughter and hid because we were all so scared.
‘The guy with the machete escaped through a housing estate and got away and the other guys ran off, they all got out of there pretty quick.
‘But there was that guy with the tracksuit wearing flip-flops, obviously didn’t care if he was recognised.’
Scotland Yard have been approached for a comment.
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