London attack: Off-duty police officer 'rugby tackled knife-wielding terrorist'

'There are barely words to describe their bravery – officers who ran towards danger with no thought for their own safety'

Click to follow
The Independent Online

An off-duty police officer rugby tackled one of the London Bridge attackers as several police heroically tried to halt the attack before the arrival of armed colleagues. 

The rugby-playing officer was stabbed as he attempted to overpower one of the attackers, the BBC reported. 

Four police were among the dozens of people injured by the three terrorists, who killed seven people.

Attackers shouted 'this is for Allah' says London Bridge eyewitness

The off-duty officer was seriously hurt but was being treated in hospital where his condition was not believed to be life-threatening. 

Another officer, who worked for the British Transport Police, was stabbed in the face, head and legs when he took on all three attackers with just his baton. He was is in a stable condition in hospital. Two more officers were hurt. 

Members of the public also tried to fight back against the attackers.

Gerard Vowls told of how he threw glasses, bottles and chairs at the attackers after seeing them stab a woman in the street.

Police have said armed officers shot dead three suspects just eight minutes after the first emergency call.

Ken Marsh, chairman of the Metropolitan Police Federation, said: “Our thoughts are with the families of those who lost loved ones in the horrific events last night and we wish well to those still injured.

“There can be no doubt that the swift response of our colleagues – both armed and unarmed – saved further lives from being lost.

“There are barely words to describe their bravery – officers who ran towards danger with no thought for their own safety.

“Londoners can rightly be proud of their emergency services today. They are the best of the best and we thank everyone for their praise and kind comments.

“I can confirm that sadly some of our colleagues were among the injured in the attack last night. I join all UK police colleagues in wishing them a swift recovery. We are offering them our full support.”

An investigation into the attack is ongoing and 12 people have been arrested so far. 

Assistant Commissioner for Specialist Operations in the Metropolitan Police, Mark Rowley, said eight police firearms officers fired an "unprecedented" 50 rounds during the attack.

The attackers were shot dead, but a civilian was also shot accidentally by officers, Mr Rowley said.

The passerby's injuries were not believed to be critical and there is to be an independent investigation into the circumstances.