Militants drove a van at high speed into pedestrians on London Bridge before stabbing Saturday night revellers on the street and in nearby bars, killing at least six people and wounding more than 48.
Terrorism struck at the heart of London, police said Sunday, after a vehicle veered off the road and mowed down pedestrians on London Bridge and witnesses told of men with large knives stabbing passer-by at nearby Borough Market.
The London ambulance service said more than 30 people had been taken to hospitals across the city. Three major London hospitals were on lockdown to keep patients and staff safe.
Armed police rushed to the scene and shot dead the three male suspects in the Borough Market area near the bridge The Metropolitan Police head of counter terrorism, Mark Rowley, said police believe all of the attackers were killed, but investigations are underway to ensure there are no more.
Bursts of gunfire echoed through the streets, likely from armed police, and at least three blasts rang out as police performed controlled explosions. One image taken by a witness showed a man on the ground surrounded by police; he appeared to be wearing a vest with canisters attached to it.
Assistant Commissioner of Met Police Mark Rowley confirmed that all three of the depraved attackers were shot and killed within eight minutes of the first call to emergency services.
The Metropolitan Police force declared the attacks “terrorist incidents.”
The violence on Saturday night in an area packed with bars and restaurants into a scene of panic and chaos, with officers running through crowded streets screaming for people to flee and lifeboats drafted to help clear the area.
The police told people to avoid the area, leaving tourists and revellers struggling to get home. It was unclear whether any of the attackers was on the run.
The area remained cordoned off and patrolled by armed police and counter-terrorism officers on Sunday, with train stations closed. Forensic investigators could be seen working on the bridge, where buses and taxis stood abandoned.
“We believe we are experiencing a new trend in the threat we face as terrorism breeds terrorism,” Prime Minister Theresa May said to sources on Sunday in front of her Downing Street office, where flags flew at half-mast.
Prime Minister Theresa May said, the series of attacks represented a perversion of Islam and that Britain’s counter-terrorism strategy needed to be reviewed, adding: “It is time to say enough is enough.”
Most of the main political parties suspended national campaigning on Sunday, but May said campaigning would resume on Monday and that the election would go ahead as planned.
Prime Minister Theresa May confirmed the attack “is being treated as a potential act of terrorism” and said her thoughts were with “those who are caught up in these dreadful events.” May’s office said she would chair a meeting of the government’s COBRA emergency committee on Sunday.
Cabinet Office Briefing Rooms, COBR, often referred to as COBRA are the locations for a type of crisis response committee set up to co-ordinate the actions of bodies within the Government of the United Kingdom in response to instances of national or regional crisis, or during events abroad with major implications for the UK.
The composition of a COBR meeting depends on the nature of the incident but it is usually chaired by the Prime Minister or another senior minister, with other key ministers as appropriate, and representatives of relevant external organisations such as the Association of Chief Police Officers and the Local Government Association.
Reporters showed a photograph of two possible attackers shot by police, one of whom had canisters strapped to his body. Hours after the attack the area, just downstream from London’s government quarter, remained sealed off and patrolled by armed police and counter-terrorism officers.
Witness Erick Siguenza told sources that one of the gang screamed “This is for Allah” as he went on his stabbing rampage. The gang had metal canisters strapped to their chests which police Chief Rowley confirmed were hoax suicide vests.
Rowley confirmed that one officer was stabbed and seriously wounded by the extremists but his injuries are not life-threatening. It has since been confirmed that the British Transport police officer was stabbed in the face.
The attacks come days ahead of a June 8 election and less than two weeks after a suicide bomber killed 22 people at a pop concert by U.S. singer Ariana Grande in Manchester in northern England. There was no immediate claim of responsibility.
The Home Secretary, interior Minister Amber Rudd said, it did not appear that there was a link between the attackers and the Manchester bombing.