A man wearing a fake explosive vest stabbed several people Friday in London, killing two in what police are treating as a terrorist attack before being tackled by members of the public and then fatally shot by officers on London Bridge, officials said.
Metropolitan Police Chief Cressida Dick said two stabbing victims had died and three injured people were being treated in hospitals. Health officials said one of the injured was in critical but stable condition, one was stable and the third had less serious injuries.
Dick said police were working “at full tilt” to determine whether anyone else was involved in the attack. She would not say whether the suspect was known to police, noting it was “a very fast moving, dynamic investigation; we will keep you updated."
The violence erupted two-and-a-half years after a van and knife attack in the same area killed eight people and less than two weeks before Britain holds a national election. The main political parties temporarily suspended campaigning in London as a mark of respect.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that “to the best of our knowledge, the incident has been contained” but that details were still emerging.
Johnson’s office said the prime minister would chair a meeting of the government’s emergency committee, COBRA, later Friday evening.
Metropolitan Police counterterrorism chief Neil Basu said the suspect appeared to be wearing a bomb vest but it turned out to be “a hoax explosive device."
Basu said officers were keeping “an open mind as to any motive.” However, a security source told British domestic news agency Press Association that the man responsible for the deaths was known to authorities and linked to “Islamic terrorist groups.”
The mayor praised 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.
The prime minister also praised the bystanders, and said anyone who was involved in the attack “will be hunted down and will be brought to justice.”
Political leaders expressed shock and sorrow at Friday’s attack.
“We will not be cowed by those who threaten us,” Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn said. “We must and we will stand together to reject hatred and division."
Both Labour and the Conservatives suspended campaigning in the city after the attack and the prime minister was also cancelling political events for Saturday.