At least seven people have been reported killed in multiple London terror attacks, barely ten days after a suicide bomber killed 22 people and injured more than 100 at the end of an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester.
A van attack at London Bridge and stabbings at nearby Borough Market claimed the lives of seven people and injured almost 50 people. The three attackers were shot dead by police within 8 minutes of the first emergency call.
Late on the evening of June 3 (at about 10 p.m. local time), a white van swerved off the road on London Bridge and hit several pedestrians. BBC reporter Holly Jones, who was at the scene, said that the van was “probably travelling at about 50 miles [80 km] an hour” when it hit five to six people, some in front of and some behind her. Another eyewitness, Mark Roberts, told the CNN that one person was hit “about 20 feet in the air.” Jones also said that she saw a man being arrested shortly afterwards.
Shortly afterwards, there were reports of multiple stab wounds in Borough Market, which is just next to the bridge. It appears that the attackers got out of the van from the bridge and stabbed people in the market area. Police also responded to stabbings at Vauxhall, about three miles away along the south bank of the River Thames, which was unrelated.
Early Sunday morning (June 4), police said seven people, not six, had died. The London Bridge incident, which comes a few days ahead of the general election on June 8, is reminiscent of the attack in March in which a man drove a car along Westminster Bridge, next to Parliament, deliberately ramming pedestrians and cyclists. Four of them were killed, and police shot the driver dead. The attacker had sent a WhatsApp message claiming jihadist motives.
On May 22, a suicide bomber killed 22 people and injured more than 100 at the end of an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester. Both men were British Muslims, and in both cases, ISIL claimed responsibility for the attacks.
The police are treating the attack as terrorism but have not yet said on what basis this claim is being made nor released the identities of the attackers.
British Prime Minister Theresa May said in a televised address that there is “far too much tolerance of extremism in our country” and vowed to act with other nations to eliminate “safe spaces” for terrorists.
She said while the Manchester Arena attack which killed 22 people, the Westminster attack in March which left four people dead and the London Bridge attack are not directly connected, there is now a “new trend” in the threat the UK faces as “terrorism breeds terrorism”.
London police had arrested at least 12 suspects at press time on Sunday.
US President Donald Trump promptly tweeted his support in the fight against terror, saying “Whatever the United States can do to help out in London and the UK,” he wrote, “we will be there – WE ARE WITH YOU. GOD BLESS!”
However, his earlier message stressing the need for travel ban against Muslims prompted outrage from a succession of experts and human rights lawyers.
John Horgan, a terrorism and political violence expert at Georgia State University, called the President an “Opportunist-in-Chief”, while Adam Wagner, a human rights barrister, said: “Message from London: political point scoring is the absolute, LAST thing we need right now.”
London Mayor, Saqiq Khan, the first Muslim to be elected Mayor of London, told the CNN that there would be increased outdoor, uniformed and plain clothes officers to keep the citizens safe.