Met police respond to reports of van driving into pedestrians on London Bridge and stabbings at nearby Borough Market
- Attackers drove van into pedestrians on London Bridge before stabbing people in Borough Market
- 48 injured people taken to hospitals
At least seven people have been killed and 48 injured after three attackers drove a van into crowds on London Bridge and then went on a stabbing rampage in nearby Borough Market.
Police said armed officers shot dead all three attackers within minutes of receiving reports of the terrorist attack unfolding in central London. The three men appeared to be wearing suicide bomb vests that were later confirmed to be fakes.
Cressida Dick, the Metropolitan police commissioner, said on Sunday morning the incident was under control. “We believe there were three attackers and we believe they are dead,” she said.
She was asked: “Do you know the identity of the attackers” and replied: “I don’t”.
The commissioner said the police’s priority was now to “establish more details about these individuals who carried out the attack and the background to it”.
Detectives also wanted to know whether anyone was working with them in what Dick described as “a fast-moving investigation”. She said there would be increased police patrols in London, including with armed officers. She urged people to remain calm but be “very vigilant”.
People fled as the attack unfolded in one of the capital’s most popular nightspots, and witnesses have given horrific accounts of the terrorists storming into a pub and restaurant to attack people with foot-long knives. They spoke of desperate attempts by customers to fend off the men with bottles and chairs.
One of those injured was a British Transport police officer, who was stabbed in the head, face and leg. His injuries are serious but not life-threatening.
Police said the rampage began at 10.08pm on Saturday and lasted eight minutes, with the three suspects shot dead by officers at 10.16pm.
It is the third deadly attack in less than three months in Britain, where the general election is due to be held on Thursday.
Police investigations continued with considerable intensity on Sunday morning in the Borough Market area, where heavily armed officers were deployed.
The BBC reported that two witnesses had claimed one or more attackers said “this is for Allah” as they rampaged.
Theresa May, the prime minister, was among many political leaders expressing their thanks to emergency services after the attack.
The first ambulance crew arrived six minutes after being called and 80 medics, including an advance trauma team from London’s air ambulance, were dispatched. The prime minister chaired an emergency meeting of the government’s crisis committee, Cobra, on Sunday morning and flags were flown at half mast over Downing Street. The Conservatives have suspended national campaigning for the day.
Police clear London Bridge area after van strikes pedestrians –
The latest attacks involved a clear plot among the three attackers, and will trigger fresh questions for police and the domestic security service MI5. The fear will be that the defences against such attacks are being regularly penetrated, after atrocities in Westminster and Manchester.
Just before 4am on Sunday, Britain’s most senior counter-terrorism officer, assistant commissioner Mark Rowley, gave the first official account of the attack.
“Since late yesterday evening the Metropolitan police service has been responding to incidents in the London Bridge and Borough Market areas of south London. We are treating this as a terrorist incident and a full investigation is already under way, led by the Met’s counter-terrorism command.
“At 22:08 yesterday evening we began to receive reports that a vehicle had struck pedestrians on London Bridge. The vehicle continued to drive from London Bridge to Borough Market.
“Armed officers responded very quickly and bravely, confronting three male suspects who were shot and killed in Borough Market. The suspects had been confronted and shot by the police within eight minutes of the first call. The suspects were wearing what looked like explosive vests but these were later established to be hoaxes.”
“It was dark, but I could see three men,” he said. “They were about 20 metres away. It was quite confusing – it took me a few seconds to work out what was going on. There was one policeman there, inside Borough Market,” he said. “He was trying to scare them away. They ran towards me because the police officer was trying to chase them.”
The men ran out of Borough Market and turned left into Stoney Street towards the Wheatsheaf pub. “Suddenly lots and lots of police came from the other direction” and armed officers started yelling at the men, Sciotto said. “There was a lot of shouting. ‘Stop, stop, get on the floor,’ stuff like that. Then the police shot them.”
Another witness, Ben, told the BBC what he saw outside Borough tube station. “I saw a man in red with quite a large blade,” he said. “I am guessing 10 inches. He was stabbing a man, maybe three times, fairly calmly. It looked like the man maybe had been trying to intervene but there wasn’t much he could do. He was stabbed quite coldly and slumped to the ground.”
May praised the emergency services and said: “Our thoughts are with those who are caught up in these dreadful events.”
Emergency services treated people lying injured at the junction of Thrale and Southwark Streets, near Borough Market. One woman was taken away on a stretcher while others sat injured on the ground, with people crying and shouting around them.
Members of the public were led up Southwark Street away from Southwark Bridge Road, and police officers shouted orders for people to run. Many were in tears, with friends supporting each other and carrying people up the road. Police entered bars and warned those inside to get get down.
Lara Al-Ostta said she was with a friend at the Old Thameside Inn underneath London Bridge when people rushed into the pub and told everyone to run away because “people are stabbing each other”.
Emergency services personnel help the injured on London Bridge – video
Thomas Daly, who was also watching the Champions League final in the Wheatsheaf, said: “People were saying there had been a stabbing at Borough Market and they locked us in. We sat down again and some minutes later people started coming into the bar and people were getting hysterical.
“A lot of people were streaming through the rear exit and we went outside and heard gunshots. I heard at least two gunshots, and at that point the people who were trying to get out the back entrance came back inside.”
Fears that a suspect could still be at large led the police to issue crisis instructions to the public, to “run, hide, tell” if caught up in an incident.