LONDON - Seven people were killed and dozens taken to hospital after attackers drove a white van at high speed into pedestrians on London Bridge before stabbing people in the nearby Borough Market area of bars and restaurants on Saturday (June 3 local time).
Police also said that three male suspects - who were wearing hoax suicide bomb vests - were shot dead at Borough Market. The suspects had been confronted and shot by the police within eight minutes of the first call.
On Sunday, police raided a building in east London that was the home address of one of the three attackers. Twelve people were arrested, although it was not immediately clear if it resulted from that single raid.
The suspects' identities have not been revealed and so far, no group has claimed responsibility for the attack. London police said they believed that all the attackers directly involved in the attack had been killed.
The attacks happened on a busy Saturday night at around 10.10pm (5.10am Singapore time on Sunday).
The British authorities have declared the incidents as acts of terrorism.
“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,” said Prime Minister Theresa May who will chair an emergency meeting on Sunday morning.
Victims who were stabbed included an on-duty British Transport Police officer who was responding to the incident at London Bridge. He received serious but not life-threatening injuries.
Armed police rushed to the scene and the authorities urged Londoners on Twitter to “run, hide, tell” if they were caught in an attack.
One of the men suspected of being behind the deadly attack was shown in a photograph lying on the ground with canisters strapped to his body after he was shot by the police, the BBC said. The possible attacker was shown on the ground outside the Wheatsheaf pub in Borough Market near London Bridge. Another man was seen lying on the ground a short distance away in the photograph.
The canisters, or vests, seen on the body of at least one of the suspects were later “established to be hoaxes”, said London Metropolitan Police assistant commissioner Mark Rowley.
A witness told the BBC that the van was driving at high speed on the wrong side of the road.
Witnesses report several people being treated on the footpath outside the market and police quickly evacuated the area, with some people walking away with their hands on their heads.
Police also responded to an incident in Vauxhall in south London but later said it was not connected to the first two.
Singaporean Ellen Chew, whose tapas restaurant Lobos is at Borough Market on the main street, said her staff are quite distraught. She said she was told by her staff members that at least three people had been stabbed.
People also ran into the restaurant to hide, she said.
"We are all saddened by this senseless tragedy. especially since it happened on home ground, and we want to help the people affected, where possible," she told The Straits Times.
A taxi driver told LBC radio: "A van came from London Bridge itself, went between the traffic light system and rammed it towards the steps. It knocked loads of people down.
"Then three men got out with long blades, 12 inches long and went randomly along Borough High Street stabbing people at random."
Mr Mark Roberts, 53, a management consultant, told Reuters: “It looked like he was aiming for groups of people. I froze beacause I didn’t know what to do." He saw at least six people on the ground after the van veered on and off the pavement. “It was horrendous,” he said
Ms Holly Jones, a BBC reporter who was on the bridge at the time of the incident, said the van was driven by a man and was “probably travelling at about 50 miles an hour”. She said at least five people were being treated for injuries after the vehicle drove on the sidewalk and hit them.
“He swerved right round me and then hit about five or six people. He hit about two people in front of me and then three behind," said Ms Jones, who added that she saw a man being arrested by the police.
At the Borough Market, witnesses reported stabbings.
A witness, who identified himself only as Andrew, told LBC Radio that he was in the area at a bar, heard “a massive bang” and saw a van hitting a railing.
“Next 10 seconds later, there was a guy with a big knife, I mean, a big knife,” he said.
He jumped over a fence, got to a footpath and saw “a dead guy lying on the floor”. He hid for a few seconds in bushes nearby, then, he said, “I ran for my life.”
Another witness Will Orton, 25, told the BBC that he was at a pub when people started running in.
"We thought maybe there was a fight or something outside. And then there were almost hundreds of people coming inside.
Mr Gerard Vowls, 47, had been watching the Champions League final at the Ship pub in Borough. He was at the start of the south side of London Bridge and saw a woman being stabbed by three men.
“I want to know if this girl is still alive,” he told Guardian. “I’ve been walking around for an hour and a half crying my eyes out. I don’t know what to do.”
Mr Vowls said he was throwing chairs, glasses and bottles at the attackers. “They kept coming to try to stab me… they were stabbing everyone.”
Another witness said a woman staggered into a pub that he was in, bleeding from her neck. He said it looked like she had her throat cut.
"The bouncers did a really good job, they shut the doors and locked everyone in," he added.
A London journalist, Mr Geoff Ho, was reportedly among those stabbed in Borough Market and taken away in ambulance. His friends and colleagues were circulating images of him on Twitter in a desperate plea for his whereabouts.
"I need to know if Geoff Ho is ok if anyone can help. Stabbed at Southwark Tavern. Last seen in an ambulance," Ms Isabelle Oderberg tweeted early on Sunday morning.
‘He called me yesterday and promised to be at my wedding in September. He always keeps his promises," she also wrote. "I just want my friend."
Police told people in the area to "run as fast as you can". Nearby underground stations London Bridge and Borough stations were immediately shut.
The incident comes just days before Britain's general election on June 8, and less than two weeks after a suicide bombing in Manchester killed 22 people, including children, and injured more than 100.
The attack is the worst terror incident in the country since the London bombings of 2005.
The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) 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.
World leaders have condemned the latest attacks in London.
American president Donald Trump tweeted after the incident: "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!"https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/871145660036378624
French President Emmanuel Macron said his country stands “more than ever at Britain’s side". “In the face of this new tragedy, France is more than ever at Britain’s side,” Macron said in a Tweet. “My thoughts go out to the victims and their loved ones.” he added.
Singapore has condemned the attacks and expressed condolences to the families of the victims. There have been no reports of Singaporeans directly affected by or injured in the incidents.
Said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in a statement: "There can be no justification for such attacks against innocent civilians."
- Additional information from Reuters