Armed police shot dead a suspected terrorist after an attack sent hundreds of people fleeing in the heart of London on Friday. Several civilians were believed to have been injured in a stabbing just before 2 p.m. in the London Bridge area on the edge of the capital’s financial center, police said.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson broke away from the general election campaign to rush back to his Downing Street offices where he will be briefed on the events. Eight people were killed and 48 injured in an attack on the same part of London in 2017, just days before the election in June of that year.
U.K. police confirmed they had shot dead one male suspect and declared the attack a terrorist incident. “I’m now in a position to confirm that it has been declared a terrorist incident,” said Neil Basu, Metropolitan Police assistant commissioner, in a statement outside the London police service’s headquarters. “I must stress we retain an open mind as to any motive. It would be inappropriate to speculate further at this time.”
He added the police believe the item strapped to the body of the suspect was a hoax explosive device.
During the incident on Friday, armed officers burst into restaurants in the Borough Market area at London Bridge and urged diners to leave as fast as possible. They shouted “Out, out, out,” to people at the Black and Blue bar. Diners walked away with their hands on their heads. Nearby, police shouted to pedestrians to “run.”
Officers closed off the bridge and evacuated passers-by from the surrounding area. 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.”
The same area of London was the scene of a terrorist attack just a few days before the general election in June 2017 in which eight people were killed and 48 injured. Three Islamist terrorists drove a van at pedestrians on the bridge before arming themselves with knives and running into Borough Market, where they stabbed people in restaurants and pubs. Armed police responded and killed the attackers.
U.S. President Donald Trump condemned the violence on London Bridge and offered his country’s full support, a spokesman said.
“President Trump has been briefed on this morning’s attack at the London Bridge and is monitoring the situation,” said Judd Deere, deputy press secretary at the White House. “The United States strongly condemns all horrific acts of violence on innocent people, and we pledge our full support to our Ally, the United Kingdom.”
Trump is due to visit the U.K. next week for a NATO summit.
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