NEWS
01/12/2019 9:33 AM AEDT

London Bridge Attack: Here's What We Know So Far

Police have declared a terror incident following a stabbing that killed two people. Here are the confirmed details.

Two victims of a knife attack carried out by a convicted terrorist in London Bridge have died, police have confirmed. 

The first victim of what Scotland Yard dubbed a “terror incident” was named by his father as 25-year-old Jack Merritt, a Cambridge University graduate. 

Three other people were also injured in the attack on Friday afternoon by 28-year-old Usman Khan, who was shot dead by police at the scene. 

Heroic civilians helped grapple the suspected knifeman to the ground and disarm him before specialist officers arrived at the scene.

Khan, who was living in Staffordshire, was known to police and had been imprisoned in 2012 for his part in a plot to bomb the London Stock Exchange in an Al Qaida-inspired attack. 

The incident is believed to have started during a conference at Fishmonger’s Hall, on the north side of the bridge, which was being held by to celebrate an initiative run by Cambridge University and was attended by students, academics, and alumni. 

The area surrounding Borough Market was evacuated and London Bridge was closed to traffic and pedestrians, with trains not stopping at the station. The station has since reopened. 

A large cordon remains in place around the site of the incident, and City of London police have confirmed that additional police will patrol the area over the weekend in order to reassure members of the public. 

On Saturday, the Met Police said it did not believe anyone else was involved in the attack, but that investigations are continuing. 

PA
Police fatally shot a man on London Bridge. 

How many people are injured?

Cressida Dick, Metropolitan Police commissioner, confirmed on Friday evening that two people had been killed. 

Jack Merritt – from Cottenham, near Cambridge – was the course coordinator for Cambridge University’s Learning Together initiative. The 25-year-old was at an event run through the programme at Fishmonger’s Hall, where the attack began. 

Three other people are currently in hospital and receiving treatment for their injuries. 

On Saturday, NHS chief executive Simon Stevens said a victim who was critically injured had improved. 

“While three people remain in hospital, this means two are now stable and a third has less serious injuries,” he said.

Was this a terror attack?

Late on Friday evening it was confirmed by a security source that the attacker had been known to the police and had links to terror groups. 

Earlier Basu said the attack “has been declared as a terror incident” but that police were keeping an open mind about the motive. Initially, they had merely said they were responding as though it could have been terror-related.

Speaking at a press conference, Dick said: “The empty ideology of terror offers nothing but hatred and today I urge everyone to reject that. Ours is a great city because we embrace each other’s differences.

“We must emerge stronger still from this tragedy. In doing that we will ensure that the few who seek to divide us will never, ever succeed.”

A maintenance worker who witnessed the London Bridge knife attack claims he was told the assailant had been in prison for terrorism offences.

Jamie Bakhit, a 24-year-old from Purley, Croydon, said he spoke to one of the men who helped wrestle the knifeman to the ground after they were taken to the Salvation Army headquarters to be interviewed by police.

He told the PA news agency: “The guy who was on top of him said he [the attacker] had been in prison for terrorism, apparently.

“Some of the guys who were on top of him were ex-prisoners and they had all been in the Fishmongers’ Hall.

“The guy told me he was in prison with the attacker.”

Who was responsible? 

West Midlands Police/PA
Usman Khan

Police identified the attacker, who was shot dead by police, as 28-year-old Usman Khan in the early hours of Saturday morning. 

Khan, who is believed to have been living in Stoke-on-Trent, was a convicted terrorist and is believed to have recently been allowed to leave prison on license after being jailed in 2012 for terrorism offences. 

He had formed part of an al Qaida-inspired terror group that plotted to bomb the London Stock Exchange and planned to build a terrorist training camp on land in Pakistan-controlled Kashmir owned by his family.

He, alongside two co-conspirators, originally received an indeterminate sentence for public protection but this was quashed at the Court of Appeal in April 2013 and he was given a determinate 16-year jail term.

Met Police commissioner Cressida Dick confirmed on Saturday that police believed Khan was acting alone. 

Footage taken by Khan appeared to show the suspect being restrained by members of the public, before being shot at point-blank range by specialist armed officers.

Basu said in a press conference that specialist officers had been deployed after reports that the suspect had an explosive vest, but the device was believed to be a “hoax”.

He added: “Due to reports that the suspect might have had an explosive device, specialist officers attended the scene.

“However, I can confirm at this time we believe a device that was strapped to the body of the suspect is a hoax explosive device.”

It is believed that police are not looking for anyone else in relation to the attack.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan spoke of the “breathtaking heroism” the civilians showed.

They “literally ran towards danger,” he said, “not knowing what confronted them.

“We do know from the statement given by the assistant commissioner Neil Basu is that there appears to be a device on the suspect.

“Members of the public didn’t realise at the time that was a hoax device and they really are the best of us, another example of the bravery and heroism of ordinary Londoners running towards danger, risking their own personal safety to try and save others.

“And I want to say thank you to them on behalf of all Londoners but also because it shows the best of us.”

Thomas Gray said he was among those members of the public who helped tackle the attacker on London Bridge.

He told ITV News: “Me and my colleague Stevie were driving northbound over London Bridge and we sort of came up behind a double-decker bus and we noticed several people jumping over the central reservation out to the right and sort of just peered our heads around and saw there was one chap running away from five guys running him down with a fire extinguisher.

“So Stevie and I just thought what to do, and just ran towards it, left the cars where they were and tried to do our best to apprehend the suspect.

“When we got there he was wielding two knives, one was duct-taped to his hand so all I could do after the guys had held him down and were pinning him to the ground, tried to stamp as hard as I could on his wrist to try and release the knife as it were.

“Someone kicked the knife away, somewhere northbound up London Bridge and then after that the police armed response were really quick, got there almost instantaneously, and at that point we were told he had a bomb vest so we cleared house and got out the way.”

What have politicians said?

The attack happened during campaigning for the general election next month.  

In the immediate aftermath of the incident, prime minister Boris Johnson thanked the police and emergency services for their quick response, later adding that the UK would “never be cowed or divided or intimidated by this sort of attack and our British values will prevail”.

He added that meetings were ongoing within Number 10, stating that “to the best of our knowledge the incident has been contained”, and said he would be reviewing whether or not election campaigning would continue as normal in the wake of the attack. 

Johnson also chaired a Cobra meeting on Friday evening, and said he would put aside campaigning on Saturday in order to concentrate on the response to the attack. 

He said: “While it is too early to say exactly what happened we will make sure the Government gives the police and the emergency services all the support that they need.

“There will be now for reassurance purposes an enhanced police presence on the streets and we’re not only as you know putting 20,000 more police officers on the streets of this country but I have long argued that it is a mistake to allow serious and violent criminals to come out of prison early.

“It is very important that we get out of that habit and that we enforce the appropriate sentences for dangerous criminals, especially for terrorists, that I think the public will want to see”.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn confirmed that the party was suspending all general election campaigning on Friday evening as a “mark of respect for those who suffered” in the attack.

“We must remain united across all our communities, and we cannot let our democratic process be derailed by acts of terror,” he said. 

“We are suspending campaigning in London tonight as a mark of respect for those who suffered in this attack. We will not be cowed by those who threaten us. We must and we will stand together to reject hatred and division.”

London mayor Sadiq Khan called on Londoners to “stay resolute in our determination to stand strong and united in the face of terror”. 

Can I travel to London Bridge? 

London Bridge National Rail and Underground stations were both closed in the immediate aftermath of the incident, however reopened later on Friday evening. 

On Saturday morning the Queen also released a statement, stating that she and Prince Phillip had been “saddened” by news of the attacks. 

She said: “We send our thoughts, prayers and deepest sympathies to all those who have lost loved ones and who have been affected by yesterday’s terrible violence.

“I express my enduring thanks to the police and emergency services, as well as the brave individuals who put their own lives at risk to selflessly help and protect others.”

Can I help?

Peter Nicholls / Reuters
Empty buses are pictured at London Bridge after a stabbing incident, in London, Britain, November 29, 2019. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls