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London attacker said to have Islamic extremist ties, was jailed for terrorism

Suspected perpetrator of deadly stabbing was known to British security authorities, was wearing electronic monitoring tag, according to UK media reports

Armed police with dogs patrol along Cannon Street in central London, on November 29, 2019 after a stabbing attack on London Bridge. (Ben STANSALL / AFP)
Armed police with dogs patrol along Cannon Street in central London, on November 29, 2019 after a stabbing attack on London Bridge. (Ben STANSALL / AFP)

The suspected perpetrator of a deadly terror stabbing spree in London had reportedly been jailed previously for terrorism and was wearing an electronic monitoring tag when he carried out the attack on Friday.

British media, citing security sources, reported that the attacker had links to Islamic extremist groups and was known to the UK’s MI5 intelligence agency.

The Times newspaper said the attacker had stabbed people at a criminology conference in London that he was attending.

Officials would not confirm those details, but UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he had “long argued” that it was a “mistake to allow serious and violent criminals to come out of prison early.”

Johnson, who chaired a meeting of the government’s COBRA emergency committee late Friday, said more police would be patrolling the streets “for reassurance purposes.”

Two people were killed and several others injured in the stabbing at London Bridge, which authorities declared a terror incident. Police shot the suspect dead at the scene of the attack.

Authorities had initially reported only wounded in the attack, but later said that two victims had succumbed to their injuries. London Mayor Sadiq Khan had indicated earlier that some of the injuries were serious.

Metropolitan Police said the suspect appeared to be wearing a bomb vest when he was shot and killed, but it turned out to be “a hoax explosive device.”

Police assist an injured man near London Bridge in London, on November 29, 2019 after a terror stabbing in the area. (Daniel Sorabji/AFP)

Scores of police, some armed with submachine guns, rushed to the scene after reports of a stabbing, ushering confused office workers and tourists out of an area packed with office buildings, banks, restaurants and bars. Staff in office blocks in the area were told to stay inside.

The Metropolitan Police force said officers were called just before 2 p.m. Friday (1400 GMT) “to a stabbing at premises near to London Bridge.” London Ambulance Service said it had crews on the scene.

Khan commended the “breathtaking heroism of members of the public who literally ran towards danger not knowing what confronted him.”

“They are the best of us,” Khan said.

Johnson 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.”

City of London Police, the force responsible for the business district, urged people to stay away from the area. British Transport Police said London Bridge station, one of the city’s busiest rail hubs, was closed and trains were not stopping there.

London Bridge was the scene of a June 2017 attack when Islamic State-inspired attackers ran down people on the bridge, killing two, before stabbing several people to death in nearby Borough Market.

In March 2017, an attacker fatally struck four people with a car on nearby Westminster Bridge then fatally stabbed a police officer before security forces shot and killed him in a courtyard outside Parliament.

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