Seven people have been killed and 48 more injured in a terror attack on the centre of London.
At 22:07 BST on Saturday night, a rented white van driven mounted the pavement at high speed on London Bridge and rammed into pedestrians before crashing into a wall. Three men then got out of the vehicle and started attacking people on the bridge and at restaurants and bars at nearby Borough Market.
Witnesses reported hearing the men shout “this is for Allah” as they targeted drinkers enjoying their Saturday evening. Some people fled the scene, while others threw bottles and chairs at the men.
Armed police were swiftly on the scene and within eight minutes had shot dead all three men outside the Wheatsheaf pub a few hundred metres from where they crashed the van.
More than 80 medics attended the scene and the victims were rushed to five nearby London hospitals to receive treatment.
The police operation went on into the night as officers made sure that the area was safe and that all evidence on the three men had been gathered.
London Bridge station remains closed, and for a short period authorities also closed the underground stations at Bank and Monument, and stopped traffic in both directions on London Bridge.
The Met Police has set up a casualty bureau on 0800 096 1233 and 020 7158 0197 for people concerned about friends or relatives that may have been caught up in the attack.
In the wake of the attack, Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Cressida Dick, said in a statement:
“Last night saw another appalling and tragic incident in London; something we hoped we would not see again.
“Obviously my thoughts are with all of those affected, those injured and the families of those innocent people who died whilst out enjoying a Saturday night in our Capital.
“In the early hours of this morning, I have visited one of the hospitals where the injured are being treated.
“There, I heard truly remarkable stories of extraordinary brave actions by officers – on and off duty – who were first on the scene. I also heard of colleagues from other emergency services and members of the public who ran towards the danger as this incident unfolded.
“Many, many people risked their own safety to help others and to treat those seriously injured and indeed to confront the suspects involved.
“It is clear to me that the courage of those people during and following the attack was extraordinary and I pay tribute to all of them who came to the aid of those in need during this dreadful attack and I am sure helped to save lives.
“As you know our officers confronted the suspects and brought this terrible incident to a conclusion within eight minutes.
“It has now been confirmed sadly that seven members of the public have died. In addition, as you know, we believe three suspects are dead.
“My current information is that 48 people have been injured. They are currently being treated in hospital.
“To remind you, we were called at 10.08pm on 4 June to reports that a vehicle had struck pedestrians on London Bridge.
“That vehicle continued to drive from London Bridge to Borough Market. The suspects then left the vehicle and a number of people were stabbed. The suspects were shot dead by armed officers.
“We believe that this incident is under control. However, a large cordon remains in the area around London Bridge and Borough Market and there are many officers on scene, as we need still to carry out a thorough search of the area to ensure that everyone has been accounted for, and to make the whole area safe. I appreciate this has been a terrifying experience for many people, and I would like to thank the people affected in that area for their forbearance as we carry out our work.
“To anyone who is currently within the cordon our advice is to stay inside and our officers will be in touch. If you are concerned contact us.
“London Bridge Station and Underground is also closed. So for people who might be thinking of travelling to that area, I would ask you to avoid it if you possibly can.
“This is a fast-moving investigation and we have significant resources deployed both to the investigation and to the visible patrols that people will be seeing as they wake up this morning. We will have increased patrols in many areas by the police, and these will as you would expect include armed officers.
“An emergency number has been established for anyone who is concerned for loved ones who perhaps not have returned home. The Casualty Bureau number is 0800 0961 233.
“Our priority now is to work with our colleagues in the National Counter Terrorism Policing Network and also with the intelligence agencies and other security services to establish more details about the individuals who carried out the attack and the background to it.
“Finally, this is a very worrying time for people; I do understand that. I would ask people in London and visitors to remain calm. Please of course be very vigilant and if you see anything suspicious, anything at all, or you are concerned about anyone at all, even if you think it is very insignificant, don’t hesitate to contact us on the anti-terrorism hotline on 0800 789 321. Your information could be vital.”
The prime minister has led a COBRA meeting this morning, and made a speech outside Number 10 to condemn the attacks and call for unity in the face of terrorism. She said:
“Last night, our country fell victim to a brutal terrorist attack once again. As a result I have just chaired a meeting of the government’s emergency committee and I want to update you with the latest information about the attack.
Shortly before 10:10 yesterday evening, the Metropolitan Police received reports that a white van had struck pedestrians on London Bridge. It continued to drive from London Bridge to Borough Market, where 3 terrorists left the van and attacked innocent and unarmed civilians with blades and knives.
All 3 were wearing what appeared to be explosive vests, but the police have established that this clothing was fake and worn only to spread panic and fear.
As so often in such serious situations, the police responded with great courage and great speed. Armed officers from the Metropolitan Police and the City of London Police arrived at Borough Market within moments, and shot and killed the 3 suspects. The terrorists were confronted and shot by armed officers within 8 minutes of the police receiving the first emergency call.
Seven people have died as a result of the attack, in addition to the 3 suspects shot dead by the police. Forty-eight people are being treated in several hospitals across London. Many have life-threatening conditions.
On behalf of the people of London, and on behalf of the whole country, I want to thank and pay tribute to the professionalism and bravery of the police and the emergency services – and the courage of members of the public who defended themselves and others from the attackers. And our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and with their friends, families and loved ones.
This is, as we all know, the third terrorist attack Britain has experienced in the last 3 months. In March, a similar attack took place, just around the corner on Westminster Bridge. Two weeks ago, the Manchester Arena was attacked by a suicide bomber. And now London has been struck once more.
And at the same time, the security and intelligence agencies and police have disrupted 5 credible plots since the Westminster attack in March.
In terms of their planning and execution, the recent attacks are not connected. But we believe we are experiencing a new trend in the threat we face, as terrorism breeds terrorism, and perpetrators are inspired to attack not only on the basis of carefully-constructed plots after years of planning and training – and not even as lone attackers radicalised online – but by copying one another and often using the crudest of means of attack.
“We cannot and must not pretend that things can continue as they are. Things need to change, and they need to change in four important ways.
“First, while the recent attacks are not connected by common networks, they are connected in one important sense. They are bound together by the single, evil ideology of Islamist extremism that preaches hatred, sows division, and promotes sectarianism. It is an ideology that claims our Western values of freedom, democracy and human rights are incompatible with the religion of Islam. It is an ideology that is a perversion of Islam and a perversion of the truth.
“Defeating this ideology is one of the great challenges of our time. But it cannot be defeated through military intervention alone. It will not be defeated through the maintenance of a permanent, defensive counter-terrorism operation, however skilful its leaders and practitioners. It will only be defeated when we turn people’s minds away from this violence – and make them understand that our values – pluralistic, British values – are superior to anything offered by the preachers and supporters of hate.
“Second, we cannot allow this ideology the safe space it needs to breed. Yet that is precisely what the internet – and the big companies that provide internet-based services – provide. We need to work with allied, democratic governments to reach international agreements that regulate cyberspace to prevent the spread of extremism and terrorist planning. And we need to do everything we can at home to reduce the risks of extremism online.
“Third, while we need to deprive the extremists of their safe spaces online, we must not forget about the safe spaces that continue to exist in the real world. Yes, that means taking military action to destroy ISIS in Iraq and Syria. But it also means taking action here at home. While we have made significant progress in recent years, there is – to be frank – far too much tolerance of extremism in our country.
“So we need to become far more robust in identifying it and stamping it out – across the public sector and across society. That will require some difficult and often embarrassing conversations, but the whole of our country needs to come together to take on this extremism – and we need to live our lives not in a series of separated, segregated communities but as one truly United Kingdom.
“Fourth, we have a robust counter-terrorism strategy that has proved successful over many years. But as the nature of the threat we face becomes more complex, more fragmented, more hidden, especially online, the strategy needs to keep up. So in light of what we are learning about the changing threat, we need to review Britain’s counter-terrorism strategy to make sure the police and security services have all the powers they need.
“And if we need to increase the length of custodial sentences for terrorism-related offences, even apparently less serious offences, that is what we will do.
“Since the emergence of the threat from Islamist-inspired terrorism, our country has made significant progress in disrupting plots and protecting the public. But it is time to say enough is enough. Everybody needs to go about their lives as they normally would. Our society should continue to function in accordance with our values. But when it comes to taking on extremism and terrorism, things need to change.
“As a mark of respect the 2 political parties have suspended our national campaigns for today. But violence can never be allowed to disrupt the democratic process. So those campaigns will resume in full tomorrow. And the general election will go ahead as planned on Thursday.
“As a country, our response must be as it has always been when we have been confronted by violence. We must come together, we must pull together, and united we will take on and defeat our enemies.”
London Mayor Sadiq Khan said “We are all shocked and angry today – but this is our city. We will never let these cowards win and we will never be cowed by terrorism.”
We are all shocked and angry today – but this is our city. We will never let these cowards win and we will never be cowed by terrorism. pic.twitter.com/kcosumkdCR
— Sadiq Khan (@SadiqKhan) June 4, 2017
All major political parties, excluding UKIP, have suspended their election campaigns out of solidarity with the victims of the attack.