Six people were killed and more than 40 others were hospitalized after a series of terror attacks struck on and around London Bridge late Saturday night.
The horror began around 10 p.m. local time when a white van veered off the road and barreled into pedestrians on London Bridge. Three men jumped out of the van with large knives and attacked people at bars and restaurants in nearby Borough Market, police and witnesses said.
The London Ambulance Service said 48 people were treated in five hospitals across the city. London The service said that 80 medics responded to the scene. London Mayor Sadiq Khan said Sunday that some of the injured were in critical condition.
British Transport Police added that one officer suffered serious injuries responding to the attack, but was expected to survive. The officer suffered wounds to the head, face and leg.
The Metropolitan Police force declared the attacks “terrorist incidents.” Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley said that while they believe all the attackers were killed, the investigation continued.
“We believe three people were involved, but we still have got some more inquiries to do to be 100 percent confident in that,” he said.
As dawn broke over the capital, a large area on the south bank of the River Thames remained cordoned off. Police told people to avoid the area, leaving tourists and revelers struggling to get home.
Only hours before, bursts of gunfire echoed through the streets likely from armed police and at least three blasts rang out as officers performed controlled explosions. One image taken by a witness showed a man on the ground surrounded by police; he appeared to be wearing a vest with canisters attached to it.
“The suspects were wearing what looked like explosive vests,” Rowley said. “But these were later established to hoaxes.”
Gerard Vowls told The Guardian newspaper that he saw a woman being stabbed by three men at the south end of London Bridge. He said he threw chairs, glasses and bottles at the attackers in a bid to stop them.
“They kept coming to try to stab me. They were stabbing everyone. Evil, evil people,” he told the newspaper. “I want to know if this girl is still alive. I’ve been walking around for an hour and a half crying my eyes out. I don’t know what to do.”
Bartender Alex Martinez said he hid in a garbage bin for a half hour when a man stormed the restaurant where he worked, which was nearly full.
“I saw that man with a knife in his hand and after that a man started screaming so I knew something wrong was happening,” he said.
Some witnesses told Sky News and BBC that attacks shouted This is for Allah. But police have not confirmed the account.
Police initially said officers were also responding to a third incident, in the Vauxhall neighborhood, but later said that turned out to be an unrelated stabbing.
Prime Minister Theresa May confirmed the attack “is being treated as a potential act of terrorism” and said her thoughts were with “those who are caught up in these dreadful events.” Her office said she would chair a meeting of the government’s COBRA emergency committee on Sunday.
May and U.S. President Donald Trump were briefed on the matter.
Speaking to Fox News from London, Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly said the latest attacks mark the fourth or fifth time he’s had to call his British counterpart in just four months on the job because of “terrible events like this.”
It was the third attack to hit Britain in as many months.
In March, a British convert to Islam ran down people with a vehicle on Westminster Bridge, killing four, then stabbed a policeman to death outside Parliament.
On May 22, a British suicide bomber killed 22 people and injured dozens at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester. After that attack, Britain’s official threat level from terrorism was raised to “critical,” meaning an attack may be imminent. Several days later it was lowered to “severe,” meaning an attack is highly likely.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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