LONDON • Prime Minister Theresa May said Britain faces "a new trend" in terrorism, with Islamist attackers inspiring each other, after seven people were killed and 48 injured in a rampage in London - days before the general election.
"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 also by copying one another and often using the crudest means of attack," Mrs May told reporters yesterday after chairing a meeting of the government's emergency Cobra committee.
"We cannot and must not pretend that things can continue as they are."
It was the third attack in Britain in less than three months. In March, a lone assailant rammed into pedestrians on Westminster Bridge and then stabbed a police officer outside Parliament. Then two weeks ago, a bomber killed 22 people - including children - at a pop concert in Manchester.
Mrs May said that while the attacks were not directly linked, "terrorism breeds terrorism".
"While we have made significant progress in recent years, there is, to be frank, far too much tolerance of extremism in our country," she said. "So we need to become far more robust in identifying it and stamping it out across the public sector and across society."
REACTIONS FROM WORLD LEADERS
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!
US PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP, in his initial reaction.
Today, we are united across all borders in horror and sadness, but equally in determination. I stress for Germany: In the fight against all forms of terrorism, we stand firmly and decisively at Britain's side.
GERMAN CHANCELLOR ANGELA MERKEL
In the wake of this new tragedy, France more than ever stands side by side with the United Kingdom. My thoughts are with the victims and their loved ones.
FRENCH PRESIDENT EMMANUEL MACRON
Attacks in London are shocking & anguishing. We condemn them. My thoughts are with families of the deceased & prayers with the injured.
INDIAN PRIME MINISTER NARENDRA MODI in a tweet
I am shocked and disgusted. Malaysia condemns such heinous acts and we stand with the people of Britain.
MALAYSIAN PRIME MINISTER NAJIB RAZAK
Following latest London incidents with horror. Thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families. Please stay safe.
EUROPEAN COMMISSION CHIEF JEAN-CLAUDE JUNCKER
Stamping out extremism "will require some difficult and often embarrassing conversations, but the whole of our country needs to come together to take on this extremism, we need to live our lives not in a series of segregated, separated communities, but as one truly United Kingdom", added Mrs May.
The Prime Minister said her response would cover four areas.
This included confronting the ideology of Islamist extremism and making the case for "pluralistic British values", besides coordinating with other governments to force Internet companies to stop providing "safe spaces" online for extremists to recruit and coordinate.
In addition, the strategy involved dealing with "safe spaces" in the real world abroad - where she pledged that military action against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) would continue - and ending the "toleration of extremism" in Britain, including by public sector bodies.
"So in the 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 terrorist-related offences - even apparently less serious offences - that is what we will do," she said, outlining the fourth prong of the strategy.
British police arrested 12 people yesterday in connection with the attacks after raiding several addresses in Barking, a suburb in east London. The Metropolitan Police Service said in a statement that "a number of addresses" in Barking were still being searched.
Four women were seen being led away by the police, although it was not clear whether they were among those arrested. The authorities had earlier said they are handling 500 terror-related investigations into 3,000 individuals, with another 20,000 people on the radar posing a "residual risk".
United States President Donald Trump yesterday urged the world to stop being "politically correct" in order to ensure security. He also criticised London Mayor Sadiq Khan for saying Britons should not be alarmed to see a higher police presence on the streets of London following the incident.
In another tweet, Mr Trump derided gun control advocates. "Do you notice we are not having a gun debate right now? That's because they used knives and a truck!"
The US President also spoke with Mrs May to offer condolences, and he also offered Washington's "full support" in investigating the attack and bringing the perpetrators to justice, the White House said in a statement.
BLOOMBERG, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS