Three assailants kill seven in London 'terror' attack

Three assailants kill seven in London 'terror' attack
Three assailants stabbed passers-by at random after smashing into pedestrians in a van, killing seven people before being shot dead by armed police.
4 min read
04 June, 2017
Police said the three men were shot by a police armed response team [Anadolu]

Seven people were killed in a terror attack on Saturday by three assailants on London Bridge and in the bustling Borough Market nightlife district, the chief of London's police force said on Sunday.

"It has now been confirmed sadly that seven members of the public have died," Cressida Dick told reporters, raising the toll from six victims earlier.

Three assailants stabbed passers-by at random after smashing into pedestrians in a van before being shot dead by armed police.

As they rampaged through the bars around London Bridge, the attackers wore what looked like suicide vests which turned out to be "hoaxes", said Mark Rowley, head of counter-terrorism policing.

The attack is being treated as a "terrorist incident", Rowley said.

Forty-eight people were rushed to hospitals in the area, according to the London Ambulance Service. 

"They were stabbing everyone. They were running up and going 'This is for Allah'," a man called Gerard told the BBC, adding that he had seen the assailants stabbing a girl and had tried to confront them.

Another witness called Eric told the BBC he had seen three men come out of a white van after hitting pedestrians and thought they were going to help.

But instead they "started kicking them, punching them and took out knives. It was a rampage really," he said, adding that he also heard a shout of: "This is for Allah".

France said two of its citizens were injured in the attack, one seriously, and President Emmanuel Macron, said his nation - which has suffered its own wave of terror attacks - was "more than ever at Britain's side."

The injured also included a police officer who was one of the first responders on the scene and was stabbed in the face and leg.

Police said the three men were shot by a police armed response team within eight minutes of receiving the first call at 10:08 pm (2108 GMT).

Echoes of Westminster attack

Witnesses described the van speeding into several pedestrians on London Bridge and then the knife-wielding men sprinting towards bars packed with revellers enjoying a Saturday night out. 

Several people said they were ordered to stay inside pubs and restaurants by police and eventually had to come out with their hands on their heads.

Italian photographer Gabriele Sciotto, who was watching the football at the Wheatsheaf pub in Borough Market, said he saw three men shot just outside the pub.

In a picture he took, a man wearing combat trousers, with a shaved head and what looked like a belt with canisters attached to it could be seen on the ground with two more bodies behind him.

"In two or five seconds, they shot all the three men down," Sciotto told the BBC. 

Dozens of emergency vehicles could be seen and a wide area around London Bridge was cordoned off as two helicopters hovered overhead.

Media reports said police carried out three controlled explosions during the night.

The attack had harrowing echoes of the one on London's Westminster Bridge in March, when British Muslim convert Khalid Masood rammed his car into pedestrians before crashing into the barriers surrounding parliament.

He stabbed a police officer to death before being shot dead by a ministerial bodyguard. 

Witnesses on London Bridge reported seeing a van mounting the pavement and hitting pedestrians.

"There was a van that crashed into the fences on London Bridge. And then there was a man with a knife, he was running. He came down the stairs and went to the bar," Dee, 26, who was visibly in shock and declined to give her last name, told AFP.

Alex Shellum at the Mudlark pub near the scene of the attack said a woman had come into the bar "bleeding heavily from the neck". 

"It appeared that her throat had been cut," he told the BBC. 

Husband and wife Ben and Natalie told BBC radio they were outside Borough Market when they witnessed a stabbing.

Ben said: "We saw people running away and then I saw a man in red with a large blade, at a guess 10 inches (25 centimetres) long, stabbing a man, about three times".

Facebook activated its safety check function for people in London to let their loved ones know they are safe and local residents offered accommodation for anyone left stranded, under the hashtag #sofaforlondon.