The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for the London terror attack and urged supporters to weaponise vehicles in attacks against the West.
- Witness: They shouted “this is for Allah”, as they stabbed indiscriminately
- Heroes: Police officer confronted attacker with only his baton, civilians struck back at assailants
- PM May warns of copycat attacks, says “enough is enough”
It was the third attack in Britain this year that Islamic State has claimed, including the similar attack on Westminister Bridge in March and the Manchester concert bombing two weeks ago, and one of several involving vehicles in Europe, including last year’s Bastille Day rampage in the French city of Nice.
Eight police officers fired some 50 rounds, killing all three assailants within seconds. Authorities, in racing to determine whether the attackers had accomplices, arrested a dozen people in Barking, an east London suburb, on Sunday.
Neighbours at the site of one raid said a man who lived there resembled one of the attackers shown in news photographs.
“He’s lived here for about three years,” Damien Pettit said. “He’s one of our neighbours. I’ve said hello in passing more than 50, 60 occasions. He has two young kids. He was a very nice guy.”
Gerard Vowls, a witness of the rampage, said, “They went ‘This is for Allah,’ and they had a woman on the floor. They were stabbing her.”
“They kept coming to try to stab me…they were stabbing everyone. Evil, evil people,” he told The Guardian newspaper.
Vowls also saw people striking back at the attackers and said he joined in.
Amid the violence and fear stories of heroism and compassion are emerging.
The British Transport Police said one of their officers, among the first to arrive, confronted the attackers armed only with his baton and was seriously wounded. He was later described as being in stable condition with injuries that were not life-threatening.
Witnesses described how passers-by threw chairs, bottles and beer glasses at the attackers in an attempt to stop them.
Richard Angell, who was in a restaurant, said he looked out and saw “a guy who is throwing a table at somebody, and it’s very unclear about what is happening. And it turns out to be a heroic guy who saw what was happening and just bombarded these terrible cowardly people with stuff.”
Prime Minister Theresa May said the attack was driven by the same “evil ideology of Islamist extremism” behind the Manchester suicide bombing that left 22 people dead, and the Westminster attack, which killed five.
She warned that the country faced a new threat from copycat attacks.
Although the London and Manchester attacks were not directly connected, she said “we believe we are experiencing a new trend in the threat we face” as “terrorism breeds terrorism” and attackers copy one another. She added that five credible plots have been disrupted since March.
May also warned there was “far too much tolerance of extremism in our country”, promising to review counter-terrorism efforts, including possibly increasing the jail terms for terror cases.
“It is time to say, enough is enough,” she said.
US President Donald Trump offered his help, tweeting “WE ARE WITH YOU. GOD BLESS!” – and highlighting his thwarted ban on travellers from six mainly Muslim countries.
Britain’s official terrorism threat level was raised from “severe” to “critical” after the Manchester attack, meaning an attack may be imminent. Several days later it was reverted to “severe”, meaning an attack is highly likely.
Home Secretary Amber Rudd said that the level would remain at severe because police believe there are no perpetrators still on the loose.
In the latest developments, police say they know the identity of the three terrorists.
They added that the cordon in the area of attack would remain in place “well into Monday”.
Earlier report: Jun 4, Six Killed, at Least 30 Injured in London Terrorist Attack