British Prime Minister Theresa May called on Sunday for a stronger response to Islamist extremism after three attackers drove a van into pedestrians on London Bridge and stabbed others nearby, killing seven people and injuring 48.
London's Metropolitan Police arrested 12 people in the Barking district of east London in connection with the attack and raids were continuing there, the force said.
Along with announcing that four French citizens had been among the many injured in the brutal attack, President Emmanuel Macron said, "France is standing more than ever side by side with the UK. My thoughts go out to the victims and their loved ones."
The attack, which has been claimed by the Islamic State (IS) group, occurred five days before a parliamentary election and May said the vote would go ahead as planned on Thursday.
"It is time to say enough is enough," the Conservative leader said in a televised statement outside her Downing Street office, where flags few at half-mast.
"We cannot and must not pretend that things can continue as they are," May said, calling for a beefed-up counter-terrorism strategy that could include longer jail sentences for some offences and new cyberspace regulations.
It is the third attack to hit the UK in quick succession.
Less than two weeks ago, a suicide bomber killed 22 people at a pop concert by US singer Ariana Grande in Manchester in northern England, and in March a man killed five people after driving into a crowd of pedestrians on Westminster Bridge in central London.
The prime minister is due to chair a meeting of the government's Cobra security committee on Sunday.
Police reacted fast
On Saturday night, police shot dead the three male assailants in the Borough Market area near London Bridge within eight minutes of receiving the first emergency call shortly after 10 pm (2100 GMT).
Eyewitnesses described harrowing scenes as the attackers' white van veered on and off the bridge sidewalk, hitting people along the way, and the three men then ran into an area packed with bars and restaurants, stabbing people indiscriminately. Extra Londoners were likely out enjoying the Champions League final in local pubs.
Accounts emerged of people trying to barricade themselves in a pub while others tried throwing tables and other objects to fend off the attackers.
At an apartment block in Barking, a resident told Sky News he heard controlled explosions early on Sunday morning as police gained access to the building. A Reuters photographer later saw four women being removed from the building, shielding their faces as they stepped into police vans.
The UK's top terrorism police unit appealed to the public who were in the vicinity to upload (see link below) any photos of videos they have of the incident.
The IS group claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement released Sunday night through its Amaq media agency.
"A detachment of Islamic State fighters executed yesterday's London attack," the statement read.
The IS group, losing territory in Syria and Iraq to an advance backed by a US-led coalition, had sent out a call on instant messaging service Telegram early on Saturday urging its followers to carry out attacks with trucks, knives and guns against "Crusaders" during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
Similar attacks, in Berlin, Nice, Brussels and Paris, have been carried out by Islamist militants over the past two years.
(FRANCE 24 and REUTERS)
Date created : 2017-06-04