LONDON – Police have shot dead a man suspected of stabbing several people in what has been declared a terrorist attack in central London on Friday afternoon, officials said.
Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu told a press conference outside the Metropolitan Police headquarters that the attack on London Bridge had been declared a terrorist incident.
“A male suspect was shot by specialist armed officers from the City of London Police and I can confirm that the suspect died at the scene, “he said. “A number of other people received injuries during this incident – as soon as we can provide an update on their conditions we will.”
Basu also confirmed that specialist officers were called in response to reports that the suspect was wearing an explosive vest.
“However, I can confirm at this time we believe a device that was strapped to the body of the suspect was a hoax device, “he said.
” Officers continue to carry out meticulous searches in the area to ensure there is no outstanding threat to the public. “
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The surrounding area was cordoned off and bus, subway and train stations were closed. Shops and restaurants in the area were evacuated.
Video posted to social media from eyewitnessesappeared to showarmed police and members of the public crowd around a person on the ground on the north side of the bridge.
The attack was first reported just before 2 pm (9 a.m. ET). Soon after, Transport for London confirmed that London Bridge station, a major terminal for commuters across the southeast of England, was closed.
At the same time, the London Ambulance Service declared a major incident andconfirmedit had a number of crews at the scene.
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Julian Hasslacher, 40, from Bristol, was supposed to deliver legal documents to a law firm near London Bridge by 4 pm but was unable to get through because of a police cordon.
“It’s difficult to say I guess,” he said, when asked for his reaction. “A strange mixture of shock and you know I guess inevitability that this is something we live with now. It’s sad.”
Susan Vinn, 57, who works in an office with views of London Bridge said she first noticed something was amiss when crowds of people started running around the building.
“We were out here having a cigarette,” she said. “Horrible, really – it’s become a way of life hasn’t it?”
She said she didn’t worry about her safety, however.
“You just have to get on with it, “she said. “If you worried about it every day you’d never get on a train and come into London and you wouldn’t have a job and you couldn’t work.”
London Mayor Sadiq Khan thanked emergency servicesin a statement.
“We must – and we will – stay resolute in our determination to stand strong and united in the face of terror,” he said. “Those who seek to attack us and divide us will never succeed.”
In a statement released via Twitter, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “I’m being kept updated on the incident at London Bridge and want to thank the police and all emergency services for their immediate response. “
London Bridge was thescene of a terror attack in 2017, in which eight people died and 48 were injured.