Two people were killed and several others injured Friday in a stabbing at London Bridge which has been declared a terror incident. The suspected attacker died after being shot by officers at the scene.
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.”
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.
BBC reporter John McManus was in the area and said he saw figures grappling on the bridge. He said: “I thought it was initially a fight,” but then shots rang out.
One video showed civilians tackling a man to the ground on the bridge before police arrive and shoot him (Warning: graphic images).
London Bridge Attack pic.twitter.com/1R6v0j1o51
— Wolfgang Kitzler (@wolfgangert) November 29, 2019
Mayor 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.
Amanda Hunter said she was on a bus crossing the bridge when she heard shots.
The bus “all of a sudden stopped and there was commotion and I looked out the window and I just saw these three police officers going over to a man,” she told the BBC. “It seemed like there was something in his hand, I’m not 100% sure, but then one of the police officers shot him.”
Karen Bosch, who was also on a bus, said she saw police “wrestling with one tall, bearded man” and then heard “gunshots, two loud pops.”
She said the man “pulled his coat back which showed that he had some sort of vest underneath, whether it’s a stab vest, or some sort of explosive vest.”
A video showed people fleeing the bridge on foot in the immediate aftermath of the incident.
— News flash (@BRNewsFlash) November 29, 2019
Prime Minister Boris 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.”
Police could be seen ushering people away from the northern end of the bridge, which links the city’s business district with the south bank of the River Thames. Cars and buses on the busy bride were at a standstill, with a white truck stopped diagonally across the lanes.
One eyewitness told the BBC she and other people in the area rushed into a restaurant on the bridge and were told by staff to take cover.
“They went, ‘Get under the table, shots have been fired. Gunshots,'” said the woman.
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.
Police shouting for everyone to move away. Real panic setting in at London Bridge. Rumours of a shooting? pic.twitter.com/vBZoKu73za
— Timothy Johnson (@timtj) November 29, 2019