Everything we know about the London Bridge terror attack

Police officers guard the approach to Southwark Bridge.
Police officers guard the approach to Southwark Bridge.
Image: Reuters/Neil Hall
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Updated at 5:37pm BST / 12:37pm ET.

The UK has been hit with its third terrorist attack in three months

Following a suicide bomber attacking people coming out from an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester in May and an Islamist extremist attacking people and police outside Parliament in March, another attack took place in the British capital on Saturday night (June 3) that killed seven people and injured almost 50. This is what we know so far.

How did the attack unfold?

The police were called at 10.08pm local time and told a vehicle had plowed into pedestrians on London Bridge. The van continued to drive south from London Bridge to Borough Market. Witnesses reported seeing the van driving at around 50mph, when it hit five to six people. Three attackers then left the vehicle and stabbed a number of people, including several police officers. 

The attackers were wearing what initially looked like explosive vests, but these were later found to be fake.

The police shot the three suspects within eight minutes of receiving the first emergency call. The police said in a press conference that they fired 50 bullets, “an unprecedented number of rounds,” at the attackers, fearing that they were about to detonate their suicide vests.

They police have yet to release the identities of the attackers. The BBC reported that the police know the identities of the three attackers but are not releasing the information yet. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack.

The London Bridge incident is reminiscent of the attack at Westminster and the terrorist incidents in Stockholm in April and in Nice, France last year, where attackers used vehicle ramming to cause carnage and panic. Other places where this form of low-tech terror has been used include Ohio State University and central Berlin. 

Of the 48 injured people in hospital, 21 are in critical condition.

The London Bridge area, including the Tube station, remains closed.

How did the UK government respond?

Police have made 21 arrests in Barking, in the east of the city, as they seek to find out everything they can about who pulled this off.

And prime minister Theresa May’s response to the London attack was noticeably tougher than after Manchester. May has said “time to say enough is enough,” adding “there is far too much tolerance of extremism in our country.” While the prime minister made no mention of Islamic extremism in the immediate aftermath of the Manchester attack, she described the ideology “a perversion of Islam and a perversion of the truth.”

Will this affect the British election?

The London attack comes a few days ahead the general election on June 8. All major political parties, including the Conservatives and Labour, have agreed to suspend national campaigning until Monday, June 5. (Campaigning was also suspended for three days after the attack in Manchester.)

UKIP, the political party that was instrumental in the campaign for Brexit, have refused to suspend the campaign, saying it would play into the terrorist hand.

The prime minister confirmed the election will go ahead as planned this coming week.

What did Trump say?

World leaders were quick to condemn the attack and send condolences as details of the attack emerged. French president Emmanuel Macron said France, which had four citizens injured in the attack, was “more than ever at Britain’s side.”

Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull, who confirmed that one Australian was in hospital and another was affected, said his “prayers and resolute solidarity” were with the Britain. German chancellor Angela Merkel said in a statement (link in German): “Today, we are united across borders in horror and mourning, but also in determination.

US president Donald Trump took a different approach.

Trump was referring to Sadiq Khan, the son of an immigrant bus driver who became London’s first Muslim mayor last year—and who has clashed with the Trump family in the past. The full, fairly reasonable comment from Khan is as follows:

Londoners will see an increased police presence today and over the course of the next few days. There’s no reason to be alarmed.

A spokesman for Khan said he had “more important things to do” than respond to Trump and his “ill-informed” tweet.

Is there any light in all this darkness?

Yes, actually. London has a new hero—an unnamed man who fled the scene of the terror attack still clutching on to his pint of beer. Many pointed out that this was the only reasonable thing to do, given the high price of lager.