London Bridge: Terrorist incident declared as police shoot man dead after stabbing spree

At least one member of public killed in attack, The Independent understands

Samuel Osborne,Lizzie Dearden
Friday 29 November 2019 15:19
London Bridge attack: Moment police tackle suspect on ground before shooting him

A man has been shot dead by police on London Bridge after several people were stabbed in what the Metropolitan Police have said is a “terror incident”.

Video shows a man, apparently the suspect, grappling with members of the public on the ground. As he tries to get up he appears to be hit by gunfire and collapses on the ground.

A man in a suit and jacket could be seen backing away from the man having taken a large knife. After at least two shots are heard, passengers can be heard screaming, with one shouting: “What the f***, they’ve killed him.”

At least one member of the public was killed in the attack, The Independent understands.

Police evacuated London Bridge station and set up a cordon at Borough Market while nearby shops and businesses were evacuated.

​Other footage showed police officers aiming their guns at a white lorry jackknifed across the bridge. Several officers surrounded the vehicle before moving to the rear to check its container.

Neil Basu, the head of UK counter-terrorism policing, said: “At approximately 2pm today, police were called to a stabbing at a premises near London Bridge. Emergency services attended including officers from the City of London Police and Metropolitan Police.

“A male suspect was shot by specialist armed officers from City of London police and I can confirm that this suspect died at the scene.”

Mr Basu said specialist officers had been deployed after reports the suspect had an explosive vest, but the device was believed to be a “hoax”.

He added: “Due to reports that the suspect might have had an explosive device specialist officers attended the scene. However, I can confirm at this time we believe a device that was strapped to the body of the suspect is a hoax explosive device.”

He said the attack had been declared a terrorist incident: “Due to the nature of the incident we responded as though this was terrorist-related. I am now in a position to declare it is a terrorist incident. Officers from the Met counter terrorism command are now leading this investigation.”

The London Ambulance Service (LAS) declared what is called a “major incident”, saying in a statement: “We have now declared a major incident and have a number of crews at the scene in London Bridge. We will share more information as soon as we have it.”

The Independent understands the man seen on the ground in footage is the person detained by the police.

London Ambulance Service said it had crews at the scene and the London Fire Brigade said it was assisting the police.

London Bridge attack: Met confirm knife attacker wearing fake suicide vest dies after being shot by police

A witness who works nearby told The Independent they saw a body bag being carried to the scene.

One onlooker, Philip Crouch, 57, a trader at Borough market, said: “People came running through the car park, shouting and screaming. It was chaos. The noise of the screams was extraordinary, I’ve never heard anything like it. They were just panicked.”

Traders were told to leave by police officers with “huge guns”. Mr Crouch’s children, aged 20 and 22, barricaded themselves in a store room and are waiting to be evacuated.

He was working on the night of the 2017 terror attack and said today brought back “horrible memories”.

Another witness, Zack Shooter, said police almost knocked him over as they ran towards the stabbing. “Then loads of cars with sirens all rushed past me at full speed,” he added.

Nurse Jackie Bensfield, 32, described how she asked to be let off a bus on London Bridge after she heard “five or six” gunshots.

Ms Benfield, who was on her way home from work, said she exited the bus and “ran like hell” to escape the shots.

Connor Allen, who was in his van on the bridge when it was evacuated said: “Everyone just started running, you heard these pops and that was it. We just got out the van and started running.”

The News UK building opposite the Shard was put into lockdown amid the ongoing evacuation on the London Bridge area, with staff reporting that no one was being let in or out.

Aerial view of London Bridge incident

Boris Johnson, the prime minister, said: ”I’m being kept updated on the incident at London Bridge and want to thank the police and all emergency services for their immediate response.”

Mr Johnson was returning from his Uxbridge and South Ruislip constituency to Downing Street where he would get further information on the stabbing, his official spokesperson said.

In a statement outside Scotland Yard, Sadiq Khan thanked members of the public who risked “their own safety this afternoon”.

“I want to thank our brave emergency services who responded to today’s horrific attack,” the mayor of London told a press conference. “Every day, they put their lives on the line for us, running towards danger in order to keep us safe.

“I’d also like to thank members of the public who risked their own safety this afternoon. They are the best of us.”

Mr Khan asked all Londoners to remain vigilant and report anything suspicious to the police.

Extra police officers will be on patrol across London in the wake of the attack.

Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader, tweeted: “Shocking reports from London Bridge. My thoughts are with those caught up in the incident. Thank you to the police and emergency services who are responding.”

Tobias Elwood, the former defence minister who helped tackle a terror attack outside Parliament in 2017, tweeted to say today’s incident was a “stark reminder of the dangerous and diverse threats we continue to face but also of the incredible bravery and professionalism of our emergency services in so swiftly closing this incident down”.

London Bridge attack: Police appear to try to get into lorry across central reservation on London Bridge

The stabbing came weeks after the UK terror threat was downgraded from severe to substantial, meaning further attacks are likely.

The head of UK counterterror policing said the change “indicates positive developments in reducing the threat from terrorism”.

Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu said officers were still working on about 800 live counterterror investigations, after foiling 24 plots since the Westminster attack in March 2017.

The location will bring back memories for many Londoners of the 2017 London Bridge attack, which started just metres away.

That saw three Isis supporters plough a hired van into pedestrians on London Bridge, before going on a stabbing rampage in nearby Borough Market. They killed eight victims before being shot dead by armed police.

The attack, which was the third Islamist atrocity to hit the UK in 2017, caused barriers to be put up on London Bridge and other major crossings over the Thames.

A coroner’s report into preventing future deaths warned that others could die unless authorities made changes.

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