A man wearing a fake suicide vest stabbed and killed two people and injured three others in central London before being shot dead by police Friday, in what authorities are describing as a terrorist attack.
Met police commissioner Cressida Dick confirmed on Friday evening that two of the five people injured had died after being stabbed in the attack on London Bridge. Dick reaffirmed that the attack was being treated as a terrorist incident and asked for the public’s help in combating it. The commissioner added that the ideology behind terrorism will never succeed.
U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson will chair a meeting of the government’s emergency committee — known as Cobra — at 9.30 p.m. local time (4.30 p.m. ET). Johnson earlier praised the “bravery” of the emergency services and the members of the public who intervened in the incident.
Earlier, Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu said at a press conference that police had been called to reports of a stabbing near London Bridge at about 2 p.m. (9 a.m. ET). Police engaged the suspect within five minutes and he was shot by specialist armed officers and died at the scene.
While police gave no further details of how the attacker was stopped, social media posts appeared to show members of the public confronting and disarming him. One video showed a man wrestling on the pavement with the suspect, before police helped pull him away, then fired at the attacker on the ground.
Dick paid tribute to the bystanders who intervened and then followed the instructions they were given by police, saying it assists officers “more than you can know.”
Another clip shows members of the public surrounding the attacker and pinning him to the ground, before one of them walks away holding the weapon, a large kitchen knife.
Basu said that, due to reports that the suspect may have had an explosive device, police had sent in bomb specialists and placed a wide cordon over the area. But police had determined that the suspect strapped to the suspect’s chest was a fake suicide vest.
Armed officers continued to patrol the area on Friday evening, combing the area to ensure there was no ongoing threat to the public. London Bridge rail station, a major transport hub in the British capital, was reopened four hours after the incident.
Witnesses reported hundreds of panicked members of the public rushing from the area. Armed police sealed off the iconic London landmark and evacuated remaining pedestrians from the bridge and surrounding areas, such as the popular Borough Market. Passengers stuck in vehicles on the bridge captured footage of armed police pointing their weapons at a man lying on the ground.
Workers in nearby office buildings also captured footage of the incident.
Images from the scene show a truck jack-knifed across both lanes of traffic. Footage showed police officers surrounding the vehicle with guns drawn, before checking its container.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, currently campaigning ahead of next month’s general election, sent his sympathies to the victims and their loved ones.
“This is an appalling incident and all my thoughts are with the victims and their families,” he said.
Speaking to reporters, Khan praised the bravery of members of the public who rushed in to confront the attacker.
“What’s remarkable about the images we’ve seen is the breathtaking heroism of members of the public who literally ran towards danger not knowing what confronted them,” the mayor said.
“We do know from the statement given by Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu that there appears to have been a device on the suspect. Members of the public didn’t realize at the time that was a hoax… they really are the best of us.”
London Bridge was the scene of a 2017 terror attack in which three ISIS-inspired Islamists rammed stabbed and drove over their victims, killing eight and injured 48. Like Friday’s attacker, they wore fake suicide vests.
Earlier this month, Britain’s national terrorism threat level was lowered from “severe” to “substantial,” the lowest it has been since 2014.
This is a developing story.
Cover: Incident on London Bridge. Armed police at the scene of an incident on London Bridge in central London. Picture date: Friday November 29, 2019. See PA story POLICE LondonBridge. Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire URN:48674744 (Press Association via AP Images)