Update: 1:45 p.m. Monday | Metropolitan police say they have identified two of the three attackers behind Saturday’s terrorist attack.
The Islamic State on Sunday evening claimed responsibility for an attack that killed seven and injured 48 on the London Bridge and nearby Borough Market late Saturday. Within minutes of the attack, the assailants were shot dead by police.
Twelve people were also arrested on Sunday in a section of east London by counterterrorism police, as British Prime Minister Theresa May, who is running for reelection on Thursday and condemned the attacks, called for more stringent actions to counter Islamic extremism.
The terrorist attack was the third in England since March and came nearly two weeks after a suicide bomber killed 22 people and injured 116, many of them children, who were attending an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester. In March, another man drove a car through pedestrians on London’s Westminster Bridge then stabbed a police officer, killing five people and injuring more than 40 before he was fatally shot by police.
In an address to the nation, May said there is “far too much tolerance for extremism.”
“Last night, our country fell victim to a brutal terrorist attack once again,” she said, before convening with the government’s emergency committee. “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 of means of attack.”
The attackers, who have not been identified, drove a white van at high speed into a throng of pedestrians on London Bridge at about 10:10 p.m. local time, continued to drive toward Borough Market, then left the van before attacking “unarmed civilians with blades and knives,” according London’s Metropolitan Police.
“All 3 were wearing what appeared to be explosive vests, but the police have established that this clothing was fake and worn only to spread panic and fear,” May said in a statement.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan called the assault “a deliberate and cowardly attack on innocent Londoners.”
President Donald Trump called May to express U.S. support for Britain. On Twitter, he expressed the same sentiment while calling for the reinstatement of his administration’s travel ban.
We need to be smart, vigilant and tough. We need the courts to give us back our rights. We need the Travel Ban as an extra level of safety!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 3, 2017
BBC reporter Holly Jones, who was at the scene and witnessed the violent confrontation, said the van struck at least five people. Emergency workers rushed to attend to the injured.
Police said one officer confronted the attackers on the bridge armed only with a baton and was stabbed several times, but survived. Many of the the 48 people who were hospitalized after the assault are in life-threatening condition, the authorities said.
Witnesses who saw the assault described a chaotic episode, with the three men charging into Borough Market, slashing at innocent civilians out on a warm spring night in a central hub of London, before an eruption of gunfire as police descended on the assailants.
By Sunday, hordes of armed and masked police spread out through the market and into the the surrounding streets. The London Bridge remained closed to traffic as investigators continued to collect evidence, the Associated Press reported. Four French citizens were among the injured, French officials said.
In a scene that has repeated itself several times in recent months, makeshift memorials sprung up across the United Kingdom and in cities around Europe.