12 arrested after London attack; ISIS claims responsibility


June 4, 2017

LONDON — Authorities made 12 arrests and conducted exhaustive searches across an East London neighborhood Sunday after a rampage that left seven dead, dozens more injured and once again brought chaos and fear to the streets of America's closest European ally.

June 4, 2017

LONDON — Authorities made 12 arrests and conducted exhaustive searches across an East London neighborhood Sunday after a rampage that left seven dead, dozens more injured and once again brought chaos and fear to the streets of America's closest European ally.

Prime Minister Theresa May addresses the media following a COBRA meeting in response to the terror attack, at 10 Downing Street on June 4, 2017 in London.

Three suspected terrorists also were killed in Saturday night's attack, and 21 of the 48 injured remained in critical condition late Sunday. The attack at iconic London Bridge and a nearby market was the third terrorist strike in Britain in less than three months.

The Islamic State claimed responsibility for Saturday's attacks, the SITE intelligence group said Sunday. Eyewitnesses said they heard the men shout "this is for Allah,” British media reported.

"It is time to say enough is enough," Prime Minister Theresa May said Sunday. She called for tougher measures to contain Islamic extremism, saying the recent attacks are not directly linked, but “terrorism breeds terrorism.”

“They are bound together by the single evil ideology of Islamist extremism that preaches hatred, sows division and promotes sectarianism,” she said. “It is an ideology that claims our Western values and freedom, democracy and human rights are incompatible with the religion of Islam."

May also called for international agreements to regulate cyberspace and deny terrorism the "safe space it needs to breed." Twitter and Google were among major tech firms issuing statements saying they were working to deny terrorists an online voice.

Police said a van plowed into pedestrians on London Bridge, then drove to the nearby Borough Market where the attackers went on a stabbing rampage. Armed officers confronted three suspects, who police said were wearing "hoax" suicide vests, at the market.

Mark Rowley, head of counterterrorism for Metropolitan Police, said eight officers firing about 50 shots killed all three attackers. One member of the public suffered a gunshot wound, but the injuries were not believed to be critical, he said.

"The situation these officers were confronted with was critical, a matter of life and death," Rowley said. "Three armed men, wearing what appeared to be suicide belts, had already attacked and killed members of the public and had to be stopped immediately."

Rowley lauded the courage of officers who ran toward the attack as it unfolded.

"I am humbled by the bravery of an officer who will rush toward a potential suicide bomber thinking only of protecting others," he said.

A woman reacts after asking a Police officer to lay flowers near London Bridge in London on June 4, as a tribute to the victims of the June 3 terror attack. Seven people were killed in a terror attack on Saturday by three assailants on London Bridge and in the bustling Borough Market nightlife district, the chief of London's police force said on Sunday.

Counterterrorism police units made the arrests Sunday during a sweep in the suburban community of Barking, and more homes in the area were being searched, Rowley said. The alleged connection to the attack was not revealed. Rowley said investigators were working to learn more about the attackers, their connections and whether they were assisted by others not at the scene.

"We will work relentlessly to establish the facts," he said.

Some of the 48 wounded and taken to local hospitals had life-threatening injuries, and 36 remained hospitalized late Sunday, police said. Among them was a British Transport Police officer in stable condition after showing "enormous courage in the face of danger, as did many others who were at the scene and rushed to help," Chief Constable Paul Crowther said. An off-duty London police officer also was injured.

Daniel Ansah, 50, a security guard at Tito's restaurant near London Bridge, was present when the attack unfolded. He and others at the restaurant helped some of the wounded.

"It was horrific," he said. "It could have happened to me, too. I'm traumatized."

President Trump tweeted solidarity with Britain, saying: "WE ARE WITH YOU. GOD BLESS!" But Trump also took shots at political correctness and gun control.

“We must stop being politically correct and get down to the business of security for our people. If we don't get smart it will only get worse,” Trump tweeted.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan said he was "appalled and furious that these twisted and cowardly terrorists deliberately targeted innocent Londoners" and tourists. He urged all Londoners to "remain calm and vigilant today and over the days ahead."

A couple hug at the police corden at the north end of London Bridge in London on June 4, after leaving flowers in tribute to the victims of the June 3 terror attack. – Daniel Leal-Olivas, AFP/Getty Images

The secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain, Harun Khan, also condemned the attack.

“Muslims everywhere are outraged and disgusted at these cowards who once again have destroyed the lives of our fellow Britons," he said "That this should happen in this month of Ramadan, when many Muslims were praying and fasting, only goes to show that these people respect neither life nor faith."

Four French citizens were among the wounded. French President Emmanuel Macron denounced the “abominable and cowardly” attack and said France will continue fighting “terrorism with all our strength alongside Britain and all other countries concerned.”

Britain has weathered two other terrorist attacks in recent months. On March 22, five people were killed in London after Khalid Masood rammed his car into pedestrians on Westminster Bridge before fatally stabbing a policeman outside Parliament. Masood was shot dead by police. The Islamic State said a "soldier" from the group carried out the attack. Police later said Masood had no links to extremist groups such as al-Qaeda or the Islamic State, also known as ISIS.

On May 22, Salman Abedi, a British-born suicide bomber, killed 22 people and injured 59 others at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester in northwestern England. Abedi died at the scene. ISIS claimed responsibility but that claim cannot be verified.

Saturday's attack came on the eve of a benefit concert that Grande held in Manchester for victims of last month's bombing to aid the victims and their families. The concert drew a huge crowd and heavy security.

The major political parties suspended campaigning Sunday ahead of Thursday's parliamentary elections.

Courtesy: USA Today