The 3 attackers wearing fake explosive vests have been shot dead.
LONDON — Authorities in central London confirmed six victims have been killed, at least 48 hospitalized, and three attackers shot dead by police in a terror attack Saturday night.
A white van mounted the pavement on London Bridge at speed just before 10:08 p.m., hitting a number of pedestrians, said Assistant Police Commissioner Mark Rowley. The van then drove to Borough Market, an area with many bars and restaurants on the south side of the river Thames and very close to London Bridge. There, the attackers jumped out of the van and stabbed a number of people. One of those injured was a British Transport Police officer.
Armed officers responded, shooting dead three male suspects within eight minutes of receiving the first emergency call, Rowley said. The assailants were wearing what looked like explosive vests, but Rowley confirmed these were fake.
“We are reviewing and planning to strengthen our policing stance across London over the forthcoming days, and there will be additional police and officers deployed across the capital,” Rowley said.
The Counter Terrorism Command is leading the investigation into the attack, and has asked anyone with images or film of the incident to upload it online.
Prime Minister Theresa May said in a statement: “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. This is a fast moving investigation. I want to express my huge gratitude to the police and emergency services who are on the scene. Our thoughts are with those who are caught up in these dreadful events.”
The latest attack occurred as campaigning for Britain’s June 8 snap election entered its final stages. The Conservative Party announced in a statement Sunday it would postpone national campaigning for the day.
As news of the attack emerged, U.S. President Donald Trump retweeted a story about the incident, then added: “We need to be smart, vigilant and tough. We need the courts to give us back our rights. We need the Travel Ban as an extra level of safety.”
A readout of a phone call between Trump and May sent out by the White House said Trump “offered his condolences for the brutal terror attacks on June 3 in central London. He praised the heroic response of police and other first responders and offered the full support of the United States government in investigating and bringing those responsible for these heinous acts to justice.”
Saturday’s attack was the third in a series of recent similar incidents, including a suicide bombing that killed 22 people in Manchester May 22 and an attack that claimed five victims and injured dozens outside the British parliament in central London on March 22.
Britain raised its terror threat level to severe, the highest possible, immediately after the Manchester attack, then lowered it after several days to the second-highest level, critical, meaning authorities believed another attack was highly likely but not expected imminently.
In a press conference early Sunday, London Mayor Sadiq Khan denied authorities made a mistake downgrading the threat level.
Khan also said people should not be “cowered” by the attack.
“One of the things that these terrorists want to do is to disrupt our way of life, they want to stop us enjoying the freedoms that we have, enjoying mingling and mixing on a Saturday night in the heart of London having a good time, they want to stop us voting on Thursday in the general election and enjoying the democracy that we have,” Khan said. “We can’t allow them to do that. We can’t be cowered by terrorism.”
Khan said he was not in favor of the election being postponed.
Separately, police reported they were responding to an incident in the Vauxhall area — around 2km to the south west. Vauxhall tube station later reopened, and police confirmed a stabbing that occurred there was not connected to the Borough Market and London Bridge incidents.
The Met Police issued its “Run, Hide, Tell” advice via Twitter.
Journalists at the Sun, whose office is near the scene, reported hearing three explosions from 1:23 a.m. Sunday in the area. “Just had confirmation explosions in London Bridge area are controlled and police monitored,” tweeted James Cox.
Police opened a casualty bureau for those concerned about relatives and friends who may have been injured in the attack. The numbers are: 0800 096 1233 and 020 7158 0197. Authorities also asked those in the area to let loved ones know they are safe to relieve pressure on the bureau.
London’s Guy’s Hospital, St. Thomas’ Hospital and Evelina London children’s hospital were “on lockdown” in the early hours of Sunday morning.
British Home Secretary Amber Rudd said in a statement that the “horrific attack in the heart of our capital city” intentionally targeted those “enjoying their evening with friends and family.”
Baron Paddick, a Lib Dem peer and former deputy assistance commissioner with the Met Police offered people caught up in the incident somewhere safe to stay. “10 minute walk from #LondonBridge if you need somewhere safe to stay. DM me,” he wrote on Twitter.
French President Emmanuel Macron tweeted his condolences. “In the face of this tragedy, France is more than ever at the side of the United Kingdom,” he wrote.
The French government in a statement on Sunday confirmed French citizens were among those injured in the “abominable and cowardly attack against our free society.”
Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel also tweeted in support of Britain, writing: “A new tragedy in #London, we all stand with #UK.”
The European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said he was following the developing situation: “Following latest #London incidents with horror. Thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families. Please stay safe.” European Council President Donald Tusk also tweeted his support, writing: “My heart and mind are in London after another cowardly attack. Europe stands by UK in fight against terrorism.”
Face à cette nouvelle tragédie, la France est plus que jamais aux côtés du Royaume-Uni. Mes pensées vont aux victimes et à leurs proches.
— Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) June 4, 2017
Following latest #London incidents with horror. Thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families. Please stay safe.
— Jean-Claude Juncker (@JunckerEU) June 3, 2017
My heart and mind are in London after another cowardly attack. Europe stands by UK in fight against terrorism.
— Donald Tusk (@eucopresident) June 4, 2017