London terror attacks: seven dead, 21 more victims in critical condition
Four men and seven women being detained under terrorism legislation
British police said on Sunday they would release the names of the three men who killed seven people in London on Saturday night “as soon as operationally possible”, adding that searches were continuing in four properties.
Twelve people were arrested in Barking, east London, on Sunday in connection with the attack.
Police said one man had been released without charge, but four men and seven women were still being detained under terrorism legislation.
“The public can expect to see additional police - both armed and unarmed officers - across the capital as you would expect in these circumstances,” Mark Rowley, Britain’s top counter-terrorism policeman, said in a statement.
Earlier, England’s National Health Service said 21 of the 48 people injured in the London Bridge terror attack were in a critical condition.
Seven people were killed in what was Britain’s second terrorist atrocity in two weeks, when a group of attackers in a van mowed down pedestrians on London Bridge and then stabbed people in a busy area nearby.
Police said they shot dead three men, who they believe were the only people directly involved in the attack.
At 7am on Sunday morning, police raided a building in east London that was the home address of one of the three attackers.
Also on Sunday morning, British prime minister Theresa May held a meeting of the emergency committee Cobra.
In a statement afterwards, she said recent terrorist attacks in the UK were not linked by a common network but by an extremist ideology. She said there was a need to respond on four fronts:
- Confronting the ideology of Islamic extremism, and making the case for “pluralistic British values”;
- Coordinating with other governments to force Internet companies to stop providing “safe spaces” online for extremists to recruit and coordinate;
- Dealing with “safe spaces” in the real world, both abroad, where she pledged military action would continue, and ending the “toleration of extremism” in Britain, including by public sector bodies; and
- Examining the criminal justice system, including the lengths of prison sentences for offenders.
“Enough is enough,” she said. “Things have to change.”
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn also praised the police and emergency services and called the attack “brutal and shocking”.
The Conservatives, the Labour Party and the Scottish National Party each said they would suspend national election campaigning.
At about 9.30am on Sunday morning, Metropolitan Police commissioner Cressida Dick said: “It has now been confirmed that seven members of the public have died. In addition, as you know, we believe three suspects are dead. My current information is that 48 eople have been injurd and 48 people were indeed taken to hospital for treatment.”
The attack came less than two weeks after a suicide bomber killed 22 people at a concert in Manchester and less than three months after a lone attacker drove into pedestrians on Westminster Bridge, killing four, and stabbed a police officer to death in the Palace of Westminster.
Mark Rowley, deputy commissioner of the UK capital’s Metropolitan Police and Britain’s most senior anti-terrorism officer, said police were called at 10.08pm on Saturday to an incident involving a white van hitting pedestrians on London Bridge before continuing on to the nearby crowded Borough Market.
“The suspects then left the vehicle and a number of people were stabbed, including an on-duty British transport police officer who was responding to the incident at London Bridge. He received serious but not life-threatening injuries,” he said.
“Armed officers responded very quickly and bravely, confronting three male suspects who were shot and killed in Borough Market. The suspects were wearing what looked like explosive vests but these were later established to be hoaxes.”
London mayor Sadiq Khan condemned the “barbaric” and “horrific” attack as “deliberate and cowardly”.
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.
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 beacause I didn’t know what to do,” said Mark Roberts (53) a management consultant.
He saw at least six people on the ground after the van veered on and off the pavement. “It was horrendous,” he said.
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) said.
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.
Four French nationals were among those injured in the attacks, French officials said. Australia said two of its citizens were caught up in it and one of them was in hospital.
A spokeswoman for the Department of Foreign Affairs said there had been no reports of any Irish citizens caught up in the attacks. Embassy staff in London are continuing to monitor the situation.
US president Donald Trump took to Twitter to offer US help to Britain. The White House said he had been briefed on the incidents by his national security team.
Additional reporting: Reuters