British police shot a man on London Bridge in the heart of Britain’s capital on Friday after a stabbing that left several people wounded.
The Metropolitan Police force said the circumstances were still unclear, but “as a precaution, we are currently responding to this incident as though it is terror-related. One man has been shot by the police”
Scores of police, some armed with submachine guns, rushed to the scene, ushering bemused office workers and tourists out of an area packed with office buildings, banks, restaurants and bars. Workers in office blocks in the area were told to stay inside.
The police force said officers were called just before 2pm “to a stabbing at premises near to London Bridge,” which links the city’s business district with the south bank of the River Thames.
They said a man was detained and “a number of people have been injured.”
“We believe a number of people have been injured,” according to a statement posted on the Met’s Twitter feed. Sky News reported five casualties in the incident, citing police sources.
Witnesses reported seeing what appeared to be fighting on the bridge and hearing several gunshots. Sky reported that the man shot was the apparent attacker. One video posted on social media showed two men struggling on the bridge before police pulled a man in civilian clothes off a black-clad man on the ground. Shots then rang out. Other images showed police, guns drawn, pointing at a figure on the ground in the distance.
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.”
On the north bank of the River Thames, police officers shouted to pedestrians to move back from the bridge 100 meters, and then urged them to take shelter in any nearby building, shouting: “Move inside for your own safety.
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.
Cars and buses on the busy bride were at a standstill, with a white truck stopped diagonally across the lanes. Video footage showed police pointing guns at the truck before moving to check its container.
British Transport Police said London Bridge station, one of the city’s busiest rail hubs, was closed and trains were not stopping there. City of London Police, the force responsible for the business district, urged people to stay away from the area.
The incident revived memories of the June 2017 London Bridge attack, when three Islamic State-inspired attackers ran down people on the bridge, killing two, before stabbing several people to death in nearby Borough Market.
That incident took place days before a general election. Britons are due to go to the polls again on December 12, and the last election campaign in 2017 was interrupted by attacks, including one that killed eight people in the same area of London.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s office said he was receiving updates on the incident and was returning to his 10 Downing Street office from the campaign trail.