London terror attacks: What we know and don’t know
The mayhem started when a van careered into pedestrians on London Bridge, and ended when police swarmed and killed three attackers said to be wearing what were later found to be fake suicide vests.
Here’s what we know, and the questions still being asked.
What we know
At 10.08 p.m. BST Saturday night (5.08 p.m. ET), London Metropolitan officers responded to reports of a vehicle colliding with pedestrians on London Bridge. Witness Mark Roberts said he said saw a van speeding across London Bridge towards London Bridge underground station, which suddenly swerved, bounced off the pavement and hit several pedestrians. He said he heard what sounded like gunfire about five to 10 minutes later. Another witness, Brad Myers, had just left London Bridge when he heard a “boom” behind him, which he thinks was the sound of a car hitting the guardrails or other vehicles. He said he saw someone jump into the water to avoid being hit. Multiple ambulances were sent to the scene with the first team arriving within six minutes, according to the London Ambulance Service. An advanced trauma team was also sent by car. As emergency services rushed to respond, reports came in of multiple stabbings at Borough Market, a popular gourmet food market with restaurants that were open and busy on a Saturday night. Witness Elsbeth Smedley told CNN that a man ran into Elliot restaurant in Borough Market, and stabbed two people before running out. Jack Applebee, a local restaurant owner, said he saw people running down the street and heard a female voice shout “they’re stabbing everyone.” He turned and saw three men wearing belts or vests with packets around the belly. About five minutes later, as he and diners sheltered in the restaurant, he said he heard 10 to 15 gunshots. It was 30 minutes before police came to escort them out. As they responded to the two incidents, police were then called to a third potential attack — reports of an “incident” in nearby Vauxhall, a residential area, which occurred just before 1 a.m. (8p ET). Police confirmed it was not related. At 00.25 a.m. BST (7.25 p.m. ET), police announced the two incidents at London Bridge and Borough Market were “terrorist incidents.” People were warned to avoid the area while emergency vehicles attended to the incidents which police described as “ongoing.” British Prime Minister Theresa May has called the London Bridge incident a “potential act of terrorism.” In response, she will chair a meeting of the government’s Cobra emergency committee on Sunday. Guy’s Hospital, near London Bridge, was placed on lockdown “due to the ongoing incident in central London…. to keep patients, relatives and staff safe,” it said in a statement. At 2.13 a.m. BST (9.13 p.m. ET), London Ambulance announced that at least 20 people were taken to six hospitals in the capital. “We have declared a major incident,” the statement said. At 4 a.m. BST (11 p.m. ET) London Metrpolitan Police confirmed that six people had died, and that police had shot three attackers dead. Assistant Commissioner for Specialist Ops, Mark Rowley, said the assailants were wearing what looked like explosive vests which upon further investigation appeared to be fake.
What we don’t know
How many attackers there were, their motives and whether they were acting together are all questions being asked. The proximity of the attacks and the timing seem to suggest they were coordinated, but police have not confirmed that. While we know more than 30 people were being treated in five hospitals, we don’t know the extent of their injuries.
By Hilary Whiteman