Scotland Yard confirmed on Wednesday (7 June) that the death toll from Saturday’s attack on London Bridge had risen to eight.
Earlier police, who were hunting for Frenchman Xavier Thomas, missing since the attack, said that they had found a body in the River Thames.
Ten people remain in a critical condition after Islamist militants targeted pedestrians and revellers in London at the weekend, the English health authority said on Wednesday.
Three men drove into pedestrians on London Bridge on Saturday before attacking people with knives in nearby bars and restaurants.
President Emmanuel Macron confirmed a third French citizen had died following Saturday’s attack.
“We have had the latest toll confirmed this morning, which is three people dead and eight injured on the French side,” said Macron, who was speaking during a joint news conference with Danish prime minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen.
Met Police said the formal identification of the body had not yet taken place but that the family of the missing Frenchman, 45-year-old Xavier Thomas, had been informed of the discovery. Macron did not disclose the victim’s identity.
Le Parisien newspaper named the second Frenchman to die in the attack as 36-year-old Sebastien Belanger, while the other French victim was 27-year old Alexandre Pigeard.
Eight police officers fired an unprecedented number of bullets to stop three attackers in London who appeared to be suicide bombers wearing explosive vests, Britain’s counter-terrorism police chief confirmed.
The three attackers drove a hired van into pedestrians on London Bridge on Saturday night then ran into the bustling Borough Market area where they stabbed numerous people. The attackers were wearing what were later found to be fake explosive vests.
“Eight police firearms officers discharged their weapons … Our initial assessment is in the region of 50 rounds, in the region of 50 bullets were fired by those eight officers. The three attackers were shot dead,” Mark Rowley said.
Most police officers in Britain are not armed and it is unusual for officers to fire their guns.
“The situation these officers were confronted with was critical: a matter of life and death,” Rowley said.
“Three armed men wearing what appeared to be suicide belts. They had already attacked and killed members of the public and had to be stopped immediately.
“Indeed I am not surprised that when faced with what they must have feared were three suicide bombers, the firearms officers fired an unprecedented number of rounds to be completely confident that they had neutralized the threat that those men posed.”
A member of the public received non-critical gunshot wounds during the incident.
Rowley said police were making significant progress in identifying the three attackers, but gave no details. He said police were increasingly confident the attack had been carried out by three individuals, but needed to establish whether others were involved in the planning.
He also said security arrangements for forthcoming events were being reviewed and the public could expect to see additional police, both armed and unarmed, across the capital.
“You will also see increased physical measures in order to keep the public safe on London’s bridges,” Rowley said.
Met Police rushed to an incident on London Bridge on Saturday after witnesses said a white van had ploughed into pedestrians. In a brief initial statement Scotland Yard advised Londoners caught in a terrorist attack to “run, hide and tell”.
It continued: “From 22:08hrs 3 June, officers responded to reports of a vehicle in collision with pedestrians on London Bridge. Officers have then responded to reports of stabbings in Borough Market. Armed officers responded and shots have been fired. Officers are now responding to an incident in the Vauxhall area.
RUN, HIDE, TELL
“We will release facts when we can – our info must be accurate. We urge the public to remain calm, but be alert and vigilant. To anyone near an incident our advice is RUN – HIDE – TELL.”
There had also been unconfirmed reports of multiple stabbings at Borough Market in south London. Prime Minister Theresa May later confirmed the latest incidents in London were being treated as a “potential act of terrorism”.
She said: “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.
— Metropolitan Police (@metpoliceuk) June 3, 2017
“This is a fast-moving investigation. I want to express my huge gratitude to the police and emergency services who are on the scene.
“Our thoughts are with those who are caught up in these dreadful events.”
London Mayor Sadiq Khan branded the attack “deliberate and cowardly”. He urged Londoners and visitors to the city to remain calm and vigilant. His statement in full below;
The attacks come days ahead of the general elections on 8 June and less than two weeks after a suicide bomber killed 22 people at a pop concert by U.S. singer Ariana Grande in Manchester in northern England. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attacks.
“A van came from London Bridge itself, went between the traffic light system and rammed it towards the steps,” a taxi driver told the BBC. “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.”
PM May was being briefed on latest developments, Downing Street said, while U.S. President Donald Trump had also been briefed by his national security team, the White House said.
One woman told Reuters news agency she saw what appeared to be three people with knife wounds and possibly their throats cut at London Bridge at the Thames river.
Police said they fired shots after reports of stabbings in the nearby Borough Market area, and that they were also responding to an incident in the Vauxhall area further west, but later clarified it had not been terror-related.
Streets in the area would have been busy with revellers on a Saturday night out. BBC showed dozens of people, evidently having been caught up in the attack, being escorted through a police cordon with their hands on their heads.
British Transport Police said casualties were reported after an incident that may have involved a van and a knife attack, while the London Ambulance Service said it was sending multiple resources to the incident near London Bridge.
One witness told the BBC she saw a speeding white van veering into pedestrians at London Bridge. That witness said the van hit five to six people. Several witnesses also reported hearing gunshots.
“We were in an Uber (taxi) going towards London Bridge and suddenly we saw people running. The Uber stopped, we asked people what was going on – people said there was shooting,” said Yoann Belmere, 40, a French banker living in London.
“Now the area is completely closed with police cars going one way and ambulances going the other,” he told Reuters.
The incident bore similarities to a March attack on Westminster Bridge, west of London Bridge, in which a man killed five people after driving into a crowd of pedestrians before stabbing a police officer in the grounds of parliament.
A witness told CNN two men had entered a restaurant in the Borough Market area near London Bridge and stabbed two people inside. He said a waitress was stabbed in the throat and a man was stabbed in the back.
The Manchester bombing on May 22 was the deadliest attack in Britain since July 2005, when four British Muslim suicide bombers killed 52 people in coordinated attacks on London’s transport network.
WHAT WE KNOW SO FAR
Eight people were killed by militants who drove a van at high speed into pedestrians on London Bridge and then stabbed revelers in the nearby Borough Market area on Saturday.
Britain’s third militant attack in as many months came five days before a national election which British Prime Minister Theresa May said would go ahead on Thursday 8 June as planned.
May said the perpetrators were Islamist militants and called for a tougher counter-terrorism strategy.
All three attackers were shot dead by police and 48 people were injured.
The following is what is known so far:
– Three attackers drove a white van at high speed into pedestrians walking on London Bridge, police said.
A witness told Reuters that at least six people were hit on the bridge.
“It looked like he was aiming for groups of people. I froze because I didn’t know what to do,” Mark Roberts, a 53-year-old management consultant, told Reuters. “It was horrendous.”
Police said they responded to the incident on London Bridge at 2208 (2108 GMT) and that three suspects had been shot and killed.
– “We believe that the threat that they posed was neutralized in 8 minutes,” Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick told reporters.
Police did not believe anyone else was involved but were working to make absolutely certain, she added.
– The area around London Bridge and Borough Market remains cordoned off.
– Police arrested 12 people on Sunday in the Barking area of east London in connection with the attack. A Reuters photographer saw four women being escorted into the back of police vans.
– After the incident on the bridge, the three men left the vehicle and attacked people with knives in the nearby Borough Market area on the south side of the Thames, police said.
Witnesses said the attackers stabbed people in the street and in pubs and restaurants in Borough Market.
“Armed response officers then responded very quickly and bravely and confronted the three male suspects who were shot and killed on Borough Market,” Mark Rowley, Britain’s top anti-terrorism officer, said.
“The suspects were wearing what looked like explosive vests but these were later established to be hoaxes.”
One of them was shown in a photograph lying on the ground outside the Wheatsheaf pub.
Another man, also reported to be an attacker, was pictured on the ground a short distance away. Witnesses said they heard gunfire in the area.
A Reuters reporter nearby said he heard loud bangs afterwards that may have been controlled explosions.
– At 0025 British time on Sunday the attacks at London Bridge and Borough Market were declared as terrorist incidents.
– May said the attacks were inspired by what she called a “single, evil ideology of Islamist extremism” that represented a perversion of Islam and of the truth.
– Britain’s “COBR” emergency response committee, which includes intelligence and security chiefs as well as senior ministers, met on Sunday. Afterwards, May said there was no direct relationship between the London Bridge attack, the suicide bombing at a concert in Manchester that killed 22 people two weeks ago, and another vehicle and knife attack in Westminster in March which killed five people.
She called for a review of counter-terrorism strategy.
“We believe we are experiencing a new trend in the threat we face, as terrorism breeds terrorism, and 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 by copying one another and often using the crudest means of attack,” she said.
– Islamic State 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.
– The United Kingdom is due to hold a national election on June 8.
– Major political parties suspended national campaigning for the June 8 election in the wake of the attack, with the exception of the anti-European United Kingdom Independence Party.
– Saturday’s attack came less than two weeks after a suicide bomber Salman Abedi blew himself up at a concert in Manchester on May 22, killing at least 22.
Britain raised its terror threat to the highest level of “critical” and deployed troops on the streets on May 23, a day after the Manchester suicide attack. The critical level means another attack could be imminent. It was reduced to “severe”, which means an attack is highly likely, on May 27.
On March 22, Khalid Masood plowed a rented car into pedestrians on Westminster Bridge in London and stabbed a policeman to death before being shot dead. His attack killed five people.
– U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted: “Whatever the United States can do to help out in London and the U.K., we will be there – WE ARE WITH YOU. GOD BLESS!”
– A separate incident in Vauxhall, two miles away, was not related to the other two incidents, police said.
– Eight police officers fired an unprecedented 50 rounds of bullets to stop three attackers in London who appeared to be suicide bombers wearing explosive vests, Britain’s counter-terrorism police chief said on Sunday.
The three attackers drove a hired van into pedestrians on London Bridge on Saturday night then ran into the bustling Borough Market area where they stabbed numerous people. Eight died and 48 were taken to hospital.
The attackers were wearing what were later found to be fake explosive vests.
Eight police officers fired an unprecedented number of bullets to stop three attackers in London who appeared to be suicide bombers wearing explosive vests, Britain’s counter-terrorism police chief said on Sunday.
Saturday’s attack was the second to involve a vehicle driving into pedestrians on a bridge in London in just three months.
In March, five people died after an attacker drove a car at pedestrians on Westminster Bridge and stabbed a policeman in the grounds of parliament. The attacker was shot dead by police.