Two people reportedly killed after stabbing near London Bridge
Suspect shot dead in incident described as terror attack
Attacker had hoax explosive strapped to his body
Police say one man has been detained and several people injured
Two members of the public have reportedly been killed in an attack near London Bridge, in which police also shot dead a suspected terrorist wearing a fake suicide vest.
Police said several people were stabbed by the knifeman in a nearby building before he was grappled to the ground on the bridge by members of the public, before being disarmed by police
Video footage taken on the bridge shows another bystander, a man wearing a suit and tie, carrying a large knife away from the group. The attacker was also 'kicked in the head' by a tour guide during the scuffle.
The footage then shows armed officers shooting the suspect at point-blank range.
The BBC cited a Whitehall source claiming two people died as a result of the attack, while another victim is said to be in a critical condition.
Neil Basu, the head of UK counter-terrorism policing, said officers were called to a stabbing at a premises near to London Bridge. Yahoo News UK has spoken to one eyewitness in the Fishmonger’s Hall next the river, who said many people were stabbed in the premises.
Mr Basu said the attack “has been declared as a terror incident” but police were keeping an open mind about the motive.
He confirmed a device that was strapped to the body of the suspect was a hoax explosive device.
The members of the public who intervened have been widely praised, with Mayor of London Sadiq Khan hailing their “breathtaking heroism” and prime minister Boris Johnson their “extraordinary bravery”.
Mr Khan said: “I want to thank our brave emergency services who responded to today’s horrific incident. Every day they put their lives on the line for us, running towards danger to keep us safe.
“They are the best of us.”
Mr Johnson said: “I want to pay tribute to the bravery of members of the public who physically intervened. They represent the very best of our country, and I thank them on behalf of all of us.”
Jeremy Corbyn said his “heart went out to the victims” and that election campaigning had been suspended in London on Friday night.
‘I heard the screams’
Reports of gunfire on the bridge started to filter through on social media at around 2pm on Friday afternoon.
The incident took place on a busy, sunny Friday afternoon as the area – the capital’s business district near a major transport hub – began to swell with people heading to Borough Market for the evening or making their way home from work for the weekend.
But as witnesses reported hearing several gunshots, people ran for cover.
Images and footage of the incident posted online appear to show armed police pulling guns from a vehicle
Dramatic scenes unfolded on the bridge as crowds fled after hearing shots and footage showed members of the public streaming across the bridge as police cordoned off the area.
Borough Market, at the opposite end of the bridge to where the suspect was shot, was also cordoned off in the wake of the incident.
Yahoo News UK was told by one witness, Coralie, that the incident originated at Fishmonger’s Hall, a conference and events venue next to the River Thames near London Bridge.
The witness told Yahoo News over WhatsApp: “I was in the building when I heard the screams and one girl ran towards me because she got stabbed in her arm and everyone inside the conference started to panic.”
“I think there is one person dead,” she said. “A woman got stabbed a few times, I believe. And then we were evacuated.”
Coralie said she didn’t know how many people were involved in the incident.
“I couldn’t see. I heard it was only one,” she said. “I heard about seven gunshots while I was evacuating the building. The gunshots were outside the building.”
She said she saw “two, three people stabbed. One minor and the other two were proper bleeding”.
‘Everyone is running’
Witnesses described a scene of panic around London Bridge, moments after the incident.
Witness Kelby McNally, who works on Lower Thames Street near London Bridge, said she initially thought a fire alarm had gone off when she saw “loads of people just running”.
She said: “There were loads of people just running, I thought it was a fire alarm or something, and then I saw two girls from my office who told me not to go back there.
“I asked what had happened, and they said they had heard gunshots and now everyone is running.”
BBC correspondent John McManus told BBC News that he had heard several gunshots on London Bridge.
“There appeared to be a fight going on on the other side of the bridge, with several men attacking one man,” he said.
“Police then quickly arrived, including armed police, and then a number of shots were fired at this man,” said Mr McManus.
“Police have now cleared the bridge, everybody has been told to move back and now on the northern side of the bridge, but there are more shots going on.
Nurse Jackie Benfield, 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.”
Boris Johnson and Sadiq Khan led tributes to members of the public who helped police take down a suspected terrorist on London Bridge.
Footage posted on social media showed several people crowding around the suspect as he laid on the pavement, with one man grappling with him moments before he was shot by armed officers.
Another man could be seen carrying away a large knife thought to have been seized from the suspect, who died at the scene.
It was not immediately clear whether the two men were members of the public or emergency responders in plain clothing.
The Prime Minister thanked those who responded for their “immense bravery”, while the Mayor of London described them as “the best of us”.
“What’s remarkable about the images we’ve seen is the breathtaking heroism of members of the public who literally ran towards danger, not knowing what confronted them,” Mr Khan said.
“It’s another example of the bravery and heroism of ordinary Londoners running towards danger, risking their own personal safety to try and save others,” he said.
Tributes were also paid to emergency services who arrived at the scene of the attack within minutes.
Terror level dropped
Police patrols have been stepped up in the capital after the London Bridge attack.
The incident comes just weeks after the UK’s terrorism threat level was downgraded on November 4 to “substantial” from “severe”, meaning attacks were thought to be “likely” rather than “highly likely”.
Announcing the decision, Home Secretary Priti Patel said: “Despite the change in the threat level, terrorism remains one of the most direct and immediate risks to our national security.
“Substantial continues to indicate a high level of threat, and an attack might well occur without further warning.
“As ever, the public should remain vigilant and report any concerns they may have to the police.”
Echoes of 2017
The London Bridge incident has chilling echoes with one of the worst terror attacks in recent years, when three armed men drove at pedestrians on the bridge before running amok in nearby Borough Market.
The previous attack, on June 3 2017, left eight people dead and 48 others injured before the attackers, Khuram Butt, 27, Rachid Redouane, 30, and Youssef Zaghba, 22, were shot dead by police.
And on March 22, 2017 five people were killed in a car and knife attack in Westminster.
Khalid Masood drove a hire car over Westminster Bridge, near the Houses of Parliament, mounted the pavement and hit pedestrians before crashing into railings outside the Palace of Westminster.
He stabbed Pc Keith Palmer, 48, to death. Also killed in the atrocity were US tourist Kurt Cochran, Romanian tourist Andreea Cristea, 31, and Britons Aysha Frade, 44, and 75-year-old Leslie Rhodes. Masood was shot dead by police.