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3 Jun, 2017 21:45

London Bridge terrorist act: At least 7 killed in vehicle ramming, stabbing attacks

A van hitting pedestrians on London Bridge, followed by three attackers stabbing people there and in the nearby Borough Market area, has been declared a terrorist incident by police. At least seven people died in the attack and 48 have been hospitalized.

LIVE UPDATES: Police manhunt following stabbing, vehicle attacks across London Live updates

The rise of the death toll from the initial six to seven people was announced during a news briefing by London Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick.

The statement said all three terror suspects believed to be involved in the attack have been shot dead by security forces. It, however, added that "more work" needed to be done on investigating the incident.

In an unprecedented move, the police have advised people to “run, hide and tell”  on Twitter. Police cars, ambulances and helicopters were dispatched to the London Bridge.

London’s ambulance service confirmed that at least 48 people injured in the attack had been taken to various hospitals. “We took 48 patients to five hospitals across London and treated a number of others at the scene for minor injuries,” according to the statement.

While no detailed information about the injured was immediately released, RT’s Polly Boiko reported from outside University College Hospital that some “victims of gun wounds” were also treated by emergency services.

Conflicting accounts claimed that as many as three attackers jumped out of the van after it hit people and proceeded to stab people.

Multiple reports claim that at least two attackers were shot dead by police, with bodies seen by reporters. The BBC published a photograph showing a man lying on the ground with what appeared to be canisters strapped to his body. The photo was originally uploaded by Instagram user fried_chicken.

Eyewitnesses of the attacks have been sharing accounts of their ordeal. Mark Roberts, who was on London Bridge at the time the van ploughed into people, told Reuters he thought “this was the Westminster attack all over again.”

The 52-year-old man said that he was in such a shock from the sight of the “horrendous” attack that he could not move: "I was thinking: Which way do I run to get away?" he said.

People running terroristic attack #london #live

A post shared by Gabriele Sciotto (@fried_chicken) on

Police have confirmed they also “responded to an incident” in the nearby Borough Market after reports suggested there was a knife attack there.

Dramatic footage reportedly taken from inside the London Bridge Bar showed police ordering all the patrons to get on the ground and take cover.

Another witness, Gerard Vowls, told the Guardian that the attack happened while he was watching the Champions League Final in a pub in Borough. He said that, as he went outside, he saw three knifemen attacking a young woman in the street and attempted to stop the men by hurling glasses, chairs and bottles at them – unfortunately, to no effect.

“They kept coming to try to stab me… they were stabbing everyone. Evil, evil people,” Vowls said.

London police said earlier that a third potential attack was taking place in the Vauxhall area of the city, roughly two miles (3.2km) from Borough Market, but it was later determined to be an unrelated stabbing incident.

The attackers were most likely radical Islamist terrorists, British Interior Minister Amber Rudd told ITV, adding that the authorities “need to find out more about where this radicalization came from.”

UK should figure out “why its counter-terrorism and counter-extremism strategies keep failing over and over again,” social commentator Mo Ansar told RT.

“The scenes – people being knife-attacked, trucks and vans running [over] people in the street – are becoming too regular aspects in the streets of Britain. We are going to ask a serious question about how we stop this,” Ansar said.

It is a “vicious circle” which Britain got trapped in due to its “outdated anti-terror laws,” says award-winning Beirut-based British journalist Martin Jay, who spoke to RT. He believes these are going to be “overhauled in the next coming days.”

“We need to look at those laws once again to see if they are working,” he said, adding that Britain needs to be “radical in tackling radicalism.”

'Big knives, stabbed people at random’

With little official information available, details of the violent scenes that followed the London Bridge ramming began to emerge from eyewitnesses to the attacks. A number of people at the scene reported that the attackers were armed with machete-size knives as they bore down on pedestrians.

Chris, a taxi driver, told LBC that the attackers were wielding “long blades, 12 inches long” and “were stabbing people at random” on London Bridge. He added that he attempted to “ram” one of the assailants with his car, but failed and then saw police officers heading toward the man.

 Another eyewitness, identified only as Ben, told BBC Radio 5 that he and his wife saw “a man in red with a large blade, at a guess 10 inches long, stabbing a man about three times” just 15 meters from them. He noted that the victim was “stabbed quite coldly” until he “slumped to the ground” after attempting to confront the attacker.

A chef at a fish restaurant, located at Borough Market, similarly described the attackers he saw as “two men with big knives.” All the appeals to the attackers to stop the carnage and attempts by the restaurant staff to intervene by throwing chairs were in vain, he said.

In a show of support, Russian President Vladimir Putin has sent a letter of condolence to UK Prime Minister Theresa May, according to a statement published on the president’s website.

“This crime shocks [us] with its cruelty and cynicism,” the Putin said, adding that the world should join efforts in the fight against global terrorism.