London Bridge attack: What you need to know
- Unidentified male shot dead by police.
- Unknown number of injured.
- Video appears to show knife being taken from suspect.
- Police treating incident as terrorist attack.
A man wearing a fake explosive vest stabbed several people Friday in what police are treating as a terrorist attack before being tackled by members of the public and then fatally shot by officers at London Bridge, police and the city’s mayor said.
London Metropolitan Police cleared the area after officers were called just before 2 p.m. “to a stabbing at premises near to London Bridge.”
The force said a “number of people” had been stabbed without offering further details.
Neil Basu, assistant commissioner with the Met Police, said at a brief news conference that the suspect died at the scene and that it was believed he was wearing a “hoax explosive device.”
Basu confirmed police have declared the attack a terrorist incident but said, “I must stress, we retain an open mind as to any motive.”
Basu said updates about the status of the injured would be provided as soon as possible.
“Our heartfelt sympathies go out to everybody who’s been involved in this and is anxiously waiting information on their loved ones,” he said.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Interior Minister Priti Patel and London Mayor Sadiq Khan all expressed concern and said they were being updated on developments.
“We must — and we will — stay resolute in our determination to stand strong and united in the face of terror,” said Khan, who thanked emergency responders. “Those who seek to attack us and divide us will never succeed.
Khan said he believed some of the injuries were serious.
The mayor praised the “breathtaking heroism of members of the public who literally ran towards danger not knowing what confronted them.”
“They are the best of us,” Khan said.
‘2 loud pops’
Witnesses reported seeing what appeared to be fighting on the bridge and hearing several gunshots.
One video posted on social media showed two men struggling on the bridge before police pulled a man in civilian clothes off a black-clad man on the ground. Shots then rang out.
Other images showed police, guns drawn, pointing at a figure on the ground in the distance.
Amanda Hunter said she was on a bus crossing the bridge when she heard shots.
“[The bus] all of a sudden stopped and there was commotion, and I looked out the window and I just saw these three police officers going over to a man,” she told the BBC.
“It seemed like there was something in his hand, I’m not 100 per cent sure, but then one of the police officers shot him.”
Karen Bosch, who was also on a bus, said she saw police “wrestling with one tall, bearded man” and then heard “gunshots, two loud pops.”
She said the man “pulled his coat back which showed that he had some sort of vest underneath, whether it’s a stab vest, or some sort of explosive vest, the police then really quickly moved backwards, away.”
Police could be seen ushering people away from the northern end of the bridge, which links the city’s business district with the south bank of the River Thames.
Cars and buses on the busy bridge were at a standstill, with a white truck stopped diagonally across the lanes.
British Transport Police said London Bridge station, one of the city’s busiest rail hubs, was closed and trains were not stopping there.
London Bridge was the scene of a June 2017 attack when ISIS-inspired attackers ran down people on the bridge, killing two, before stabbing several people to death in nearby Borough Market.
In March 2017, an attacker fatally struck four people with a car on nearby Westminster Bridge and then fatally stabbed a police officer before security forces shot and killed him in a courtyard outside Parliament.
Security officials earlier this month downgraded Britain’s terrorism threat level from “severe” to “substantial,” which means an attack is seen as “likely” rather than “highly likely.” The assessment was made by the Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre, an independent expert body that evaluates intelligence, terrorist capability and intentions.
The U.K.’s terror threat was last listed as “substantial” in August 2014; since then it has held steady at “severe,” briefly rising to “critical” in May and September 2017.
Khan said he expected the threat level to be reviewed, as it regularly is, but wouldn’t speculate as to whether there would be a change in status.