London police said early Sunday that six people and their three attackers died in the latest terror incident in Britain.
A large delivery van drove into pedestrians at high speed on London Bridge late Saturday evening, then drove to Borough Market where three men left the van and stabbed several people.
The police said the three attackers were shot dead by armed officers within eight minutes of the first call to emergency services. The police said that the canisters the attackers wore, making them look like suicide bombers, were fake.
The London Ambulance Service said via Twitter that it took 48 people to five hospitals across the city.
Authorities declared the incident a terrorist attack. The delivery van used was apparently rented from a do-it-yourself building chain store.
The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, denounced the attack and said he and British Prime Minister Theresa May would take part in an emergency meeting of the government’s crisis group. Campaigning ahead of Thursday’s parliamentary election in Britain has been suspended in the wake of the attack.
“We don’t yet know the full details,” the mayor said, “but this was a deliberate and cowardly attack on innocent Londoners and visitors.
“I condemn it in the strong possible terms,” Khan added. “There is no justification whatsoever for such barbaric acts.”
Third attack since March
The Saturday night carnage on London Bridge and in the nearby Borough Market neighborhood was the third terrorist attack in Britain since March, following a similar assault on pedestrians on Westminster Bridge and a suicide-bomb explosion less than two weeks ago in Manchester that killed dozens of people and wounded more than 100.
London police at first suspected another stabbing attack in south London might have been linked to the Borough Market and London Bridge attacks. A later statement, however, confirmed there were two separate terrorist incidents, and the stabbing in the Vauxhall neighborhood was unrelated.
US offers help
The White House said late Saturday that President Donald Trump offered America’s “full support” in investigating the “brutal terror attacks” in London during a telephone call with British Prime Minister Theresa May.
The U.S. State Department said it “condemns the cowardly attacks targeting innocent civilians in London.” The statement continued, “We understand UK police are currently treating these as terrorist incidents. The United States stands ready to provide any assistance authorities in the United Kingdom may request.”
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security said it was in close contact with British authorities.
“At this time,” an official statement said, “we have no information to indicate a specific, credible terror threat in the United States” as a result of the London attack.
In Washington, Trump sent a message of support and help to Britain, but he also tweeted that the attacks emphasized the correctness of his strict policies on immigration. Other users of social media, both in the U.S. and in Britain, criticized Trump.
Few details of what occurred were confirmed officially in the chaotic first hours.
It was after 10 p.m. in London when the first alarms sounded about a wild driver steering his vehicle deliberately into pedestrians on London Bridge, and most of the accounts that followed for several hours came from multiple sources on the ground — witnesses, bystanders and journalists.
Most witnesses said they saw a white van heading toward Borough Market veer off the roadway at high speed, probably in excess of 80 kilometers per hour (50 mph), and drive into pedestrians; about five to eight people who had been walking across the bridge were hit and thrown to the pavement.
Several witnesses had said it appeared that the attackers had escaped after knocking over the pedestrians. Other witnesses said they saw at least two people who had been stabbed in a restaurant close to Borough Market.
London Bridge crosses the River Thames between central London and the South London neighborhood known as Borough Market, which lies several hundred meters from the bridge itself.
Saturday’s incident came less than two weeks after the terror attack in Manchester, England, killed 23 people following a concert by American singer Ariana Grande. The pop star was scheduled to return to Manchester Sunday to perform a benefit concert for victims of the suicide attack and their families.
VOA’s Luis Ramirez, Jamie Dettmer and Jeff Seldin contributed to this report.
IN PHOTOS: Van Hits Pedestrians on London Bridge