Lon­don­ers show their de­fi­ance amid grief

‘You won’t break us,’ one says of ram­page. Prime min­is­ter calls for tough mea­sures as Bri­tish po­lice ar­rest 12.

Los Angeles Times - - FRONT PAGE - By Erik Kirschbaum and Laura King

LON­DON — In one of the most cos­mopoli­tan of world cities, re­silience was the or­der of the day on Sun­day.

Lon­don­ers ex­pressed de­fi­ance and sol­i­dar­ity af­ter a ram­ming-and-slash­ing at­tack re­port­edly claimed by Is­lamic State that killed seven peo­ple and in­jured dozens in a sto­ried slice of the city, one im­mor­tal­ized in nurs­ery rhyme, El­iz­a­bethan verse and his­tory books.

Bri­tish po­lice re­ported 12 ar­rests in con­nec­tion with the at­tack on Lon­don Bridge and Bor­ough Mar­ket, a tan­gle of nar­row streets be­neath the bridge’s south­ern span.

Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May, fac­ing an un­ex­pect­edly tough gen­eral elec­tion this week, called for a far-reach­ing re­work­ing of Bri­tain’s counter-ter­ror­ism strat­egy and height­ened ac­tion to com­bat Is­lamist ex­trem­ism.

The claim of re­spon­si­bil­ity came from the Is­lamic State-af­fil­i­ated Amaq news agency, which said a “se­cu­rity de­tach­ment” from the group had car­ried out the at­tack. As is its usual prac­tice, Amaq cited a se­cu­rity source in the mil­i­tant group. But such claims do not al­ways point to any ac­tual de­gree of plan­ning or co­or­di­na­tion on the group’s part, some­times serv­ing merely as an en­dorse­ment of a strike be­lieved to have been in­spired by its ide­ol­ogy.

A Canadian woman was the first per­son to be iden­ti­fied as a vic­tim of the at­tack.

Chrissy Archibald’s fam­ily de­scribed her as a “lov­ing daugh­ter and sis­ter” from Bri­tish Columbia who worked at a home­less shel­ter be­fore mov­ing to Europe to be with her fi­ance.

“She had room in her heart for ev­ery­one and be­lieved strongly that ev­ery per­son was to be val­ued and re­spected,” the fam­ily’s state­ment said. “She would have had no un­der­stand­ing of the cal­lous cru­elty that caused her death.”

On Sun­day, white-clad foren­sic tech­ni­cians scoured for clues, and po­lice in black body ar­mor pa­trolled the scene of the as­sault, which be­gan late Satur­day when a rented white Re­nault van rammed pedes­tri­ans on the bridge and con­tin­ued with a knife ram­page by three at­tack­ers in the crowded nightlife district on the south bank of the River Thames.

Lon­don­ers of all creeds and vis­i­tors from across the globe flocked to the area — draw­ing as close as they could get be­hind po­lice cor­dons — to lay f low­ers and express de­fi­ance amid their grief.

“It’s to show our sol­i­dar­ity,” said Chris Pren­tice, a 40year-old Bri­tish pho­tog­ra­pher who lives in the city. He was in jeans and stub­ble as he set down a bou­quet. “It’s a mes­sage: You won’t break us. You won’t break us, ever.”

With the coun­try still mourn­ing a ma­jor as­sault less than two weeks ago, in the north­ern city of Manch­ester, Lon­don Mayor Sadiq Khan tweeted that “we will never be cowed by ter­ror­ism.”

Singer Ari­ana Grande, whose concert in Manch­ester was at­tacked on May 22, re­turned to head­line a starfilled trib­ute to that city’s vic­tims. The crowd of about 50,000 peo­ple cheered an open­ing ex­hor­ta­tion from singer Mar­cus Mum­ford: “Let’s not be afraid.”

As the Lon­don as­sault un­folded late Satur­day, some cus­tomers in pubs and restau­rants scat­tered in panic — but oth­ers fought back by hurl­ing bot­tles, beer mugs and even ta­bles and chairs at the knife-wield­ing at­tack­ers, wit­nesses said. Po­lice, whose re­sponse has been honed by two pre­vi­ous large-scale at­tacks over the last three months, shot the trio of at­tack­ers dead within eight min­utes of the first dis­tress calls.

In a coun­try where po­lice rarely draw their weapons, au­thor­i­ties ac­knowl­edged Sun­day that a by­stander had been wounded in the fusil­lade of gun­fire — 50 bullets fired by eight of­fi­cers — di­rected at the at­tack­ers. The civil­ian’s in­juries were not life-threat­en­ing, po­lice said.

Pres­i­dent Trump, who had caused a stir the evening be­fore when his ini­tial re­ac­tion to the at­tack included a call to re­in­sti­tute his court blocked travel ban, tweeted crit­i­cism Sun­day morn­ing of Khan, as­sert­ing — mis­lead­ingly — that the mayor had said there was “no rea­son to be alarmed!”

Khan on Sun­day had in fact urged Lon­don­ers to be vig­i­lant and not to be sur­prised or wor­ried by an in­creased po­lice pres­ence in com­ing days. He told the pub­lic: “I’m re­as­sured we are one of the safest global cities in the world.”

Bri­tons re­sponded with a sto­icism that for many evoked the fa­mous World War II slo­gan — when Lon­don was un­der re­lent­less Ger­man bom­bard­ment — to “keep calm and carry on.”

“You will hear the older gen­er­a­tion talk­ing about Sec­ond World War and the spirit the city had at the time,” said Stephen Re­naud, a re­tired postal worker, sur­vey­ing the scene near po­lice bar­ri­cades. “I think the spirit still car­ries through to­day.”

With the in­ves­ti­ga­tion still in its early stages, May un­leashed tough rhetoric against what she called “a sin­gle evil ide­ol­ogy of Is­lamist ex­trem­ism” without link­ing a par­tic­u­lar group or net­work to the lat­est strike.

“Enough is enough,” she said as ex­pres­sions of sym­pa­thy and sol­i­dar­ity con­tin­ued to pour in from around the world. At the Vat­i­can, Pope Fran­cis of­fered prayers for the vic­tims at his weekly Sun­day bless­ing.

In a tele­vised state­ment from her of­fi­cial res­i­dence at 10 Down­ing St., where flags had been low­ered to half­staff, the prime min­is­ter grimly cau­tioned that the at­tack marked a “new trend in the threat we face” — as­saults in which meth­ods and ide­ol­ogy echoed those of pre­vi­ous strikes.

“While the re­cent at­tacks are not con­nected by com­mon net­works, they are con­nected in one im­por­tant sense. They are bound to­gether by the sin­gle evil ide­ol­ogy of Is­lamist ex­trem­ism that preaches ha­tred, sows di­vi­sion and pro­motes sec­tar­i­an­ism,” said May, clad in a dark suit and peer­ing into the cam­eras.

The iden­ti­ties of the at­tack­ers were not im­me­di­ately dis­closed. Af­ter the May 22 sui­cide bomb­ing in Manch­ester, Bri­tish of­fi­cials were dis­mayed when de­tails in­clud­ing a sui­cide bomber’s name were leaked pre­ma­turely, ap­par­ently by U.S. of­fi­cials.

Some wit­nesses’ ac­counts, though, sug­gested an Is­lamist mo­tive. A pub­goer, Ger­ard Vowls, told Sky TV that at­tack­ers shouted, “This is for Al­lah!”

Shortly af­ter May spoke, Lon­don’s Metropolitan Po­lice Service said of­fi­cers from its counter-ter­ror­ism com­mand had ar­rested a dozen peo­ple in the East Lon­don sub­urb of Bark­ing “in con­nec­tion with last night’s in­ci­dents in Lon­don Bridge and the Bor­ough Mar­ket area.”

It said searches of “a num­ber of ad­dresses” in Bark­ing were con­tin­u­ing. The BBC re­ported that sev­eral of those ar­rested were women.

The emer­gency ser­vices re­ported that 48 peo­ple had been taken to half a dozen hos­pi­tals across the city, with three dozen still hos­pi­tal­ized Sun­day, some with crit­i­cal in­juries. Those hurt included an off-duty po­lice of­fi­cer and an on-duty mem­ber of the trans­port po­lice, and a num­ber of for­eign cit­i­zens from coun­tries that included Ger­many, France, Spain, New Zealand and Aus­tralia.

As in past at­tacks in other cities, in­clud­ing the truck ram­page last sum­mer in the French Riviera city of Nice, es­tab­lish­ments and or­di­nary peo­ple opened their doors to those left stranded by dis­rupted trans­port in an area pop­u­lar with vis­i­tors and lo­cals alike.

Bor­ough Mar­ket, with its war­ren of al­ley­ways be­neath and near Lon­don Bridge, is filled by day with famed spe­cialty food stalls, and by night — par­tic­u­larly on a spring evening like Satur­day — with pa­trons who flock to bars, clubs and eater­ies rang­ing from hole-in-the­wall dives to fine-din­ing es­tab­lish­ments.

With Bri­tain’s gen­eral elec­tion only four days away, the ma­jor par­ties called off cam­paign events on Sun­day as a sign of re­spect. The far­right UK In­de­pen­dence Party, known for its anti-im­mi­grant, anti-Mus­lim stance, said it would press ahead with cam­paign­ing — in or­der, it said, to send a mes­sage to ter­ror­ists.

Polls had ini­tially in­di­cated a heavy ad­van­tage for May’s Con­ser­va­tive Party over her prin­ci­pal La­bor Party op­po­nents head­ing into Thurs­day’s vote, but that lead had nar­rowed dra­mat­i­cally in re­cent weeks. The at­tack’s ef­fect on voter sen­ti­ments re­mained un­known.

Home Sec­re­tary Am­ber Rudd said the coun­try’s ter­ror­ist threat level would re­main at “se­vere,” be­cause no per­pe­tra­tors were be­lieved to be at large. The threat level had been raised to “crit­i­cal,” the high­est level, for some days af­ter the Manch­ester at­tack.

Daniel Leal-oli­vas AFP/Getty Images

A WOMAN asks a po­lice of­fi­cer to place flow­ers near Lon­don Bridge as a trib­ute to the vic­tims.

Dave Ho­gan One Love Manch­ester

THE AU­DI­ENCE at a ben­e­fit concert in Manch­ester. Singer Ari­ana Grande re­turned to raise money for vic­tims of the May 22 at­tack. It was a show of joy and re­silience, mu­sic critic Mikael Wood writes. CAL­EN­DAR, E1

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