Thursday 19 October 2017

Night of terror: six dead, at least 30 injured and three suspects shot dead after attackers plough into pedestrians before stabbing people nearby

  • Six killed in 'protracted' terrorist incident which began on London Bridge
  • Van mounted pavement and ploughed into pedestrians
  • Attackers stabbed people on street nearby
  • Three attackers shot dead by police 'within 8 minutes'
  • 30 injured rushed to hospital
  • Witnesses report explosions and gunshots after attack
  • Image emerges of suspected van used in attack
  • Enda Kenny: We stand with our neighbours again tonight
  • Islamic State sent out a call on Saturday urging its followers to launch attacks
  • Police open casualty bureau line for worried family members
  • Attackers 'wearing hoax explosive vests'
  • British Transport Police officer seriously injured
Police officers on Borough High Street as police are dealing with a
Police officers on Borough High Street as police are dealing with a "major incident" at London Bridge. Photo: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Six people have died in the terrorist incidents in London and three attackers have been shot dead by police, Scotland Yard said.

On Saturday night shortly after 10pm attackers drove a van at high speed into pedestrians on London Bridge before stabbing people in the nearby Borough Market area of bars and restaurants on Saturday in what authorities described as terrorist incidents.

Speaking shortly before 4am police told reporters they believed no more than three suspects were involved in the terrifying incident but said enquiries are ongoing to be "100pc confident" on that.

Police chiefs also pledged that Londoners will see an increased police presence in the city in the coming days and said the policing plan for the city will be reviewed.

People run down Borough High Street as police are dealing with a
People run down Borough High Street as police are dealing with a "major incident" at London Bridge. Photo: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire
Rescue personnel assemble after an incident near London Bridge in London, Britain June 4, 2017. REUTERS/Hannah Mckay
Police officers guard the approach to Southwark Bridge after an incident near London Bridge in London, Britain June 4, 2017. REUTERS/Neil Hall
Police attend to an incident near London Bridge in London, Britain, June 4, 2017. REUTERS/Neil Hall
Police officers guard the approach to Southwark Bridge after an incident near London Bridge in London, Britain June 4, 2017. REUTERS/Neil Hall
Police officers guard the approach to Southwark Bridge after an incident near London Bridge in London, Britain June 4, 2017. REUTERS/Neil Hall
Police officers guard the approach to Southwark Bridge after an incident near London Bridge in London, Britain June 4, 2017. REUTERS/Neil Hall
A man kisses a woman about 10 minutes after midnight a they walk away from inside a police cordon after an attack in London, Sunday, June 4, 2017. Armed British police rushed to London Bridge late Saturday after reports of a vehicle running down pedestrians and people being stabbed nearby. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
A police boat passes under London Bridge by HMS Belfast as police have confirmed that incidents at London Bridge and Borough Market are "terrorist incidents", following reports of a vehicle ploughing into pedestrians on a bridge and stabbings. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday June 3, 2017. See PA story POLICE Bridge. Photo credit should read: Yui Mok/PA Wire
People with their hands on their heads about 10 minutes after midnight as they leave from inside a police cordon after an attack in London, Sunday, June 4, 2017. Armed British police rushed to London Bridge late Saturday after reports of a vehicle running down pedestrians and people being stabbed nearby. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

The incident was described by police as a "protracted" attack which began on London Bridge and ended in the nearby food market.

Armed police rushed to the scene where shots were heard and authorities urged Londoners on Twitter to "run, hide, tell" if they were caught in the attack.

The attacks come days ahead of a June 8 election and less than two weeks after a suicide bomber killed 22 people at a pop concert by U.S. singer Ariana Grande in Manchester in northern England. There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

The BBC showed a photograph of two possible London attackers shot by police, one of whom had canisters strapped to his body. Hours after the attack the area remained sealed off. However, police have confirmed that the 'devices' were fake.

The London ambulance service said at least 30 people had been taken to five hospitals across the city. Three major London hospitals said that they were on lockdown to keep patients and staff safe.

Police said that their knowledge of the incident was "still growing".

People flee as police attend to an incident near London Bridge in London, Britain, June 4, 2017. REUTERS/Hannah McKay
People flee as police attend to an incident near London Bridge in London, Britain, June 4, 2017. REUTERS/Hannah McKay

"Armed response officers then responded very quickly and bravely and confronted the three male suspects who were shot and killed on Borough Market," Mark Rowley, Britain's top anti-terrorism officer, said.

"Sadly, six people have died in addition to the three attackers shot by police," he said.

"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," he said.

An on-duty British Transport Police officer received "serious injuries" including head, face and leg wounds, as he responded to calls for help from the public.

Witness accounts

Streets around London Bridge and Borough Market, fashionable districts packed with bars and restaurants, would have been busy with people on a Saturday night out. BBC showed dozens of people, evidently caught up in the attack, being escorted through a police cordon with their hands on their heads.

Witnesses described a white van careering into pedestrians near London Bridge and knocking over several people.

"It looked like he was aiming for groups of people. I froze because I didn't know what to do," Mark Roberts, 53, a management consultant, told Reuters. He saw at least six people on the ground after the van veered on and off the pavement.

"It was horrendous," he said.

People with their hands on their heads about 10 minutes after midnight as they leave from inside a police cordon after an attack in London, Sunday, June 4, 2017. Armed British police rushed to London Bridge late Saturday after reports of a vehicle running down pedestrians and people being stabbed nearby.(AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
People with their hands on their heads about 10 minutes after midnight as they leave from inside a police cordon after an attack in London, Sunday, June 4, 2017. Armed British police rushed to London Bridge late Saturday after reports of a vehicle running down pedestrians and people being stabbed nearby.(AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

A taxi driver told the BBC that three men got out of the van with long knives and "went randomly along Borough High Street stabbing people."

Witnesses said people ran into a bar to seek shelter.

"People started running and screaming, and the van crashes into the railing behind. We went towards Borough Market and everyone went inside (the bar). Everyone in the bar started pushing people from the exits," one witness who gave his name as Brian, 32, told Reuters.

Another witness, who declined to be named, his white top covered in blood, described a scene of panic in the bar.

"They hit the emergency alarm. There was a line of people going down to the emergency exit. And then people started screaming coming back up," the 31-year-old said.

"Around the corner there was a guy with a stab wound on his neck ... There was a doctor in the pub and she helped him. They put pressure on the stab wound."

Police attend to an incident on London Bridge in London, Britain, June 3, 2017. Reuters / Hannah McKay
Police attend to an incident on London Bridge in London, Britain, June 3, 2017. Reuters / Hannah McKay
Police officers get changed as they attend to an incident on London Bridge in London, Britain, June 3, 2017. Reuters / Hannah McKay
People walking down Borough High Street as police are dealing with a "major incident" at London Bridge. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday June 3, 2017. See PA story POLICE Bridge. Photo credit should read: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire
People run down Borough High Street as police are dealing with a "major incident" at London Bridge. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday June 3, 2017. See PA story POLICE Bridge. Photo credit should read: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire
Police officers get changed as they attend to an incident on London Bridge in London, Britain, June 3, 2017. Reuters / Hannah McKay
Armed Police officer looks through his weapon on London Bridge as police are dealing with a "major incident" at London Bridge. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday June 3, 2017. See PA story POLICE Bridge. Photo credit should read: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire
Police sniffer dogs on London Bridge as police are dealing with a "major incident" at London Bridge. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday June 3, 2017. See PA story POLICE Bridge. Photo credit should read: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire
Police officers with riot shields on Borough High Street as police are responding to three incidents in the capital, amid reports that a vehicle collided with pedestrians on London Bridge, Scotland Yard said. Officers are dealing with reports of stabbings in Borough Market, where armed officers attended and shots were fired. They are also at an incident in the Vauxhall area. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday June 3, 2017. See PA story POLICE Bridge. Photo credit should read: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire
People leave the area wearing foil blankets after an incident near London Bridge in London, Britain June 4, 2017. REUTERS/Hannah Mckay
Rescue personnel assemble after an incident near London Bridge in London, Britain June 4, 2017. REUTERS/Hannah Mckay
Police officers stand with people evacuated from the area after an incident near London Bridge in London, Britain June 4, 2017. REUTERS/Neil Hall
A man kisses a woman about 10 minutes after midnight a they walk away from inside a police cordon after an attack in London, Sunday, June 4, 2017. Armed British police rushed to London Bridge late Saturday after reports of a vehicle running down pedestrians and people being stabbed nearby. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
Police officers guard the approach to Southwark Bridge after an incident near London Bridge in London, Britain June 4, 2017. REUTERS/Neil Hall
Police attend to an incident near London Bridge in London, Britain, June 4, 2017. REUTERS/Neil Hall
Police officers guard the approach to Southwark Bridge after an incident near London Bridge in London, Britain June 4, 2017. REUTERS/Neil Hall
Police officers guard the approach to Southwark Bridge after an incident near London Bridge in London, Britain June 4, 2017. REUTERS/Neil Hall
Police officers guard the approach to Southwark Bridge after an incident near London Bridge in London, Britain June 4, 2017. REUTERS/Neil Hall
Armed police on Borough High Street as police have confirmed that incidents at London Bridge and Borough Market are "terrorist incidents", following reports of a vehicle ploughing into pedestrians on a bridge and stabbings. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday June 3, 2017. See PA story POLICE Bridge. Photo credit should read: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire
Stationary buses on London Bridge as police have confirmed that incidents at London Bridge and Borough Market are "terrorist incidents", following reports of a vehicle ploughing into pedestrians on a bridge and stabbings. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday June 3, 2017. See PA story POLICE Bridge. Photo credit should read: Yui Mok/PA Wire
A police boat passes under London Bridge by HMS Belfast as police have confirmed that incidents at London Bridge and Borough Market are "terrorist incidents", following reports of a vehicle ploughing into pedestrians on a bridge and stabbings. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday June 3, 2017. See PA story POLICE Bridge. Photo credit should read: Yui Mok/PA Wire
People with their hands on their heads about 10 minutes after midnight as they leave from inside a police cordon after an attack in London, Sunday, June 4, 2017. Armed British police rushed to London Bridge late Saturday after reports of a vehicle running down pedestrians and people being stabbed nearby.(AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
People with their hands on their heads about 10 minutes after midnight as they leave from inside a police cordon after an attack in London, Sunday, June 4, 2017. Armed British police rushed to London Bridge late Saturday after reports of a vehicle running down pedestrians and people being stabbed nearby. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

BBC radio said witnesses saw people throwing tables and chairs at the perpetrators of the attack to protect themselves.

ISLAMIC STATE CALL

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 Ramadan.

Similar attacks, in Berlin, Nice, Brussels and Paris, have been carried out by militants over the past couple of years.

"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.

London's Thames river police said it was working with the lifeboat rescue service to help evacuate people caught up in the attack.

U.S. President Donald Trump took to Twitter to offer U.S. help to Britain. The White House said he had been briefed on the incidents by his national security team.

One woman told Reuters she saw what appeared to be three people with knife wounds and possibly their throats cut at London Bridge at the Thames river. Reuters was unable to immediately verify her account.

STABBINGS ON THE STREET

The incident bore similarities to a March attack on Westminster Bridge, west of London Bridge, in which a man killed five people after driving into a crowd of pedestrians before stabbing a police officer in the grounds of parliament.

Several witnesses also reported hearing gunshots around London Bridge.

"We were in an Uber (taxi) going towards London Bridge and suddenly we saw people running. The Uber stopped, we asked people what was going on – people said there was shooting," said Yoann Belmere, 40, a French banker living in London.

"Now the area is completely closed with police cars going one way and ambulances going the other," he told Reuters.

A witness told CNN two men had entered a restaurant in the Borough Market area and stabbed two people inside. He said a waitress was stabbed in the throat and a man was stabbed in the back.

The Manchester bombing on May 22 was the deadliest attack in Britain since July 2005, when four British Muslim suicide bombers killed 52 people in coordinated attacks on London's transport network.

Read more: London terror: Everything we know so far

People staying in the Premier Inn Bankside were also evacuated across Southwark Bridge.

Dozens, including children, were brought across the bridge by police after the fire alarm in the hotel went off, according to one.

People staying in the Premier Inn Bankside have been evacuated across Southwark Bridge.

Dozens, including children, were brought across the bridge by police after the fire alarm in the hotel went off, according to one.

Emergency services were seen treating people lying injured at the junction of Thrale Street and Southwark Street, near Borough Market.

One woman was taken away on a stretcher while others sat injured on the ground, with shocked people crying and shouting around them.

Frightened people were led up Southwark Street away from Southwark Bridge Road, and police officers were seen screaming to people and ordering them to run.

Many were in tears, with friends supporting each other and carrying people up the road.

Cordons were put up across Southwark Street before repeatedly being pushed back as police widened the critical zone around Borough Market.

Enda Kenny has tweeted and said: Terrible news coming from London - we stand with our close neighbours again tonight.

British Transport Police announced London Bridge was to remain closed overnight.

The police have opened a phone line for people worried about friends or family in London, while urging people who are safe to make contact with their family.

Here is a timeline of how the events unfolded:

10.08pm: Police are called to reports of a van hitting pedestrians on London Bridge. It is initially unclear whether the van deliberately drove into people but the similarities with the Westminster Bridge terror attack are obvious and armed police are on the scene.

10.30pm: Witness accounts emerge of the van driving into a crowd of people at "about 50mph", leaving at least six casualties on the ground. BBC journalist Holly Jones tells how she narrowly avoided being hit, jumping out of the way of the van. There are unconfirmed reports of people being stabbed and shots being fired.

10.40pm: Police say they are dealing with a major incident and warn people to stay away from the area.

11.15pm: Scotland Yard says it is dealing with a second serious incident in the nearby Borough Market. Three men carrying large knives are seen attacking passersby in the street. People in restaurants reportedly try to fight off the attackers with chairs. Armed and unarmed officers flood the area, telling some people to leave. Video footage in a restaurant in the area shows police telling diners to get down on the floor. Gunshots are heard.

11.30pm: A police officer setting up a cordon tells people to move away from the area and stop filming. Sounding emotional, she says "people have died".

11.45pm: Police say they are searching for three men suspected of carrying out the attacks.

11.50pm: A third incident is reported in Vauxhall, but police later say this is believed to be an unrelated stabbing.

11.55pm: British Transport Police confirm there have been "multiple casualties".

12.10am: Officials say Theresa May is travelling to Downing Street for briefing from security officials and will chair a meeting of the the emergency Cobra committee later on Sunday. She says the incidents are being treated as "potential" acts of terror and praises the emergency services.

12.25am: Both the incidents at London Bridge and Borough Market are declared "terrorist incidents" by police.

1.30am: Three loud bangs are heard in the Borough Market area.

1.50am: A photograph shows two men lying on the ground after being shot by police. One had canisters of some kind strapped to his body.

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