LONDON, June 4 (IANS); Suspected Islamist terrorists rammed a van into a group of pedestrians on the London Bridge and then launched knife attacks at the nearby Borough Market, killing seven people and injuring 48. Police shot dead all three suspects.
The Saturday night mayhem in the heart of London comes less than a fortnight after a young British suicide bomber detonated a powerful bomb in the Manchester Arena just when an American concert had ended, killing 22 people and injuring more than 100.
The Saturday horror took place when a white transit-style van speeding toward the London Bridge Tube station drove into a crowd of unsuspecting people including tourists enjoying the pleasant weather around 10 p.m., sending one man flying some 20 feet in the air.
In no time, four or five people were on the ground, dead or dying, witnesses told the media.
The vehicle continued to drive towards Borough Market, just south of the bridge, where three assailants got out and stabbed civilians at a restaurant as well as an officer from Transport Police, the BBC reported.
One of the attackers was seen with "a big knife" attacking men and women in the Borough Market whose pubs and restaurants were packed with people.
Armed officers who reached the scene shot the suspects, who wore fake bomb vests, within eight minutes of the first call.
Some of the wounded on Saturday night were in critical condition, including a French citizen. Media reports they were in five London hospitals.
Alex Shellum, who was there, saw a girl in her 20s stagger into the pub, bleeding a lot. "It appeared her throat had been cut," Efe quoted Shellum as saying. Armed police entered the pub and ordered everyone to leave the area.
The attack triggered panic in the tourist area. People fled the scene, in some places with their hands raised on police instructions. The ruling Conservative Party immediately suspended its nation-wide election campaign.
London Bridge Tube station and the London Bridge were closed from both directions. Authorities said additional police and officers would be deployed across London in the coming days.
Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley said: "We are treating this as a terrorist incident."
British Prime Minister Theresa May said: "It's time to say enough is enough." She said the counter-terrorism strategy would be reviewed, the election campaign would resume on Monday and the parliamentary elections would be held as planned on June 8.
This is the third terror attack in Britain since March.
On March 22, six people, including a lone attacker, were killed and at least 50 people were injured in a similar attack on Westminster Bridge near Parliament. Then came the Manchester bombing.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan said he was "appalled and furious that these cowardly terrorists would deliberately target innocent Londoners", reports the Guardian.
The international community denounced the London attack.
US President Donald Trump tweeted: "Whatever the US can do to help out in London and the UK, we will be there - We are with you. God bless.
"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!"
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who returned to India early on Sunday after a four-nation European tour, denounced the killings of the innocents and offered condolences to the victims.