London Terror Attacks: What We Know So Far About the Twin Strikes
Multiple casualties were reported when a van ploughed into pedestrians and several people were stabbed in central London in what police called a "terrorist" attack days before a general election. Here’s what we know so far about the attacks
People flee as police attend to an incident near London Bridge in London, Britain, June 4, 2017 (REUTERS)
London: At least six people were reported killed when a van ploughed into pedestrians and several people were stabbed in central London in what police called a "terrorist" attack days before a general election. The violence turned a summery 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.
Here’s what we know so far about the attacks:
- Three attackers drove a white van at high speed into pedestrians walking on London Bridge. Police said they responded to the incident at 10:08 local time (2:30am IST).
- The men armed with knives left the vehicle and attacked people in the nearby Borough Market area on the south side of the Thames, witnesses said. Witnesses said the attackers stabbed people in the street and in pubs and restaurants in Borough Market.
- Police said armed police had responded to the reports of stabbings in Borough Market and shots had been fired. "The suspects had been confronted and shot by 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," Mark Rowley, Britain's top anti-terrorism officer, said.
- The men were wearing what appeared to be canisters attached to their bodies. One of them was shown in a photograph lying on the ground outside the Wheatsheaf pub. Another man, was also reported to be an attacker, was pictured on the ground a short distance away. Witnesses said they heard gunfire in the area. The police said the vests were later established to be hoaxes.
- At 12:25am (5am IST) on Sunday the incidents at London Bridge and Borough Market were declared as terrorist incidents. "Following updates from police and security officials, I can confirm that the terrible incident in London is being treated as a potential act of terrorism," Prime Minister Theresa May said just over four days before voting is due to begin in a June 8 national election. May will chair a meeting of Britain's "COBR" emergency response committee on Sunday morning. Intelligence and security chiefs as well as senior ministers and officials attend the meeting.
- It was not clear who might be responsible for the attack. Islamic State earlier on Saturday sent out a call on instant messaging service Telegram urging its followers to launch attacks with trucks, knives and guns against "Crusaders" during the Muslim holy month of Ramzan.
- Phaldip Singh, who describes himself as an entrepreneur and youth activist, tweeted that Sikh Gurdwaras were open to provide food and shelter for those affected by the attacks.
- The attack came less than two weeks after a suicide bomber Salman Abedi blew himself up at a concert in Manchester on May 22, killing at least 22. Britain raised its terror threat to the highest level of "critical" and deployed troops on the streets on May 23, a day after the Manchester suicide attack. The critical level means another attack could be imminent. It was reduced to "severe", which means an attack is highly likely, on May 27.
- The United Kingdom is due to hold a national election on June 8.
- Police initially said officers were also responding to a reported third incident, in the Vauxhall area of London. But they said later that turned out to be an unrelated stabbing.
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