Death toll rises to eight in London Bridge attack

Youssef Zaghba, 22, an Italian national, has been identified as one of the three attackers in the June 3 rampage.
Youssef Zaghba, 22, an Italian national, has been identified as one of the three attackers in the June 3 rampage.

LONDON • The death toll from the London Bridge terrorist attacks rose to eight after police yesterday found the body of a missing French national in the River Thames.

The announcement came amid more raids and arrests following the Saturday night rampage - even as officials faced questions about how intelligence services had apparently lost track of at least two suspects before the attack.

A second Australian national was confirmed dead, the Australian government said, without releasing their names. The victims have also included nationals from New Zealand and Spain, as well as Britain.

Earlier yesterday, a 30-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of terrorism-related offences after a raid in Ilford, in east London, which has emerged as the apparent hub for the attack plot.

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All three attackers in the Saturday incident were killed by police officers after mowing down pedestrians on London Bridge before stabbing people in adjacent Borough Market. They have been identified as Khuram Butt, 27, and Rachid Redouane, 30, both British citizens, and 22-year-old Moroccan-Italian Youssef Zaghba.

British police and security agencies are facing growing questions over how Zaghba and Butt slipped through the net. It now appears that at least two of the three assailants were known to British intelligence services, putting Prime Minister Theresa May and top law enforcement officials under pressure to explain what - if anything - could have been done to stop the attack.

In Italy, a senior police official told The Washington Post that Zaghba had been suspected of associating with a terrorist group.

In an interview with Italy's Radio 24, Mr Giuseppe Amato, the chief prosecutor in Bologna, said Zaghba, an Italian national, had been flagged in March last year at the Bologna airport en route to Turkey because he was travelling on a one-way ticket with only a backpack as luggage.

When asked by the authorities about his intentions, Zaghba initially replied that he was leaving to become "a terrorist". The suspect quickly corrected himself, but was later brought up on terrorism-related charges. A court later decided there was insufficient evidence to try him and dropped the charges.

Italy's anti-terrorism police continued to monitor Zaghba for 18 months, "but the evidence was not there that he was a terrorist", Mr Amato said.

A second Italian official said there had been "an absolute interchange of investigative information with the British authorities" in Zaghba's case. But, in a statement on Tuesday, the British authorities said Zaghba was "not a police or MI5 subject of interest," referring to the British intelligence service.

WASHINGTON POST

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 08, 2017, with the headline 'Death toll rises to eight in London Bridge attack'. Print Edition | Subscribe