‘They are the best of us’

Public in­ter­ven­tion on Lon­don Bridge called ‘breath­tak­ing hero­ism’

The Peterborough Examiner - - CANADA & WORLD - JILL LAW­LESS AND DAN­ICA KIRKA

LON­DON — A man wear­ing a fake ex­plo­sives vest stabbed five peo­ple, killing two, on Fri­day be­fore be­ing tack­led by mem­bers of the public and shot dead by of­fi­cers on Lon­don Bridge.

The Metropoli­tan Po­lice said they were treat­ing the in­ci­dent as a ter­ror at­tack.

Lon­don Mayor Sadiq Khan said po­lice weren’t look­ing for any­one else.

Metropoli­tan Po­lice coun­tert­er­ror­ism chief Neil Basu said the sus­pect ap­peared to be wear­ing a bomb vest, but it turned out to be “a hoax ex­plo­sive de­vice.”

Basu said of­fi­cers were keep­ing “an open mind as to any mo­tive.”

The vi­o­lence erupted twoand-a-half years af­ter a van and knife at­tack in the same area killed eight peo­ple.

Po­lice said a stab­bing at a “premises” near the bridge, which links the city’s busi­ness district with the south bank of the River Thames, was re­ported about 2 p.m. Lon­don time.

Min­utes later, wit­nesses saw a man with a knife be­ing wres­tled to the ground by mem­bers of the public, be­fore armed-re­sponse of­fi­cers shot him.

One video posted on so­cial me­dia showed two men strug­gling on the bridge be­fore po­lice pulled a man in civil­ian clothes off a black-clad man on the ground. Gun­shots fol­lowed.

Other images showed po­lice, guns drawn, point­ing at a fig­ure on the ground in the dis­tance.

Karen Bosch, who was on a bus cross­ing the bridge, said she saw po­lice “wrestling with one tall, bearded man” and then heard “gun­shots, two loud pops.”

She said the man “pulled his coat back, which showed that he had some sort of vest un­der­neath, whether it’s a stab vest, or some sort of ex­plo­sive vest, the po­lice then re­ally quickly moved back­wards, away.”

An­other bus pas­sen­ger, Amanda Hunter, told the BBC that the ve­hi­cle “all of a sud­den stopped and there was com­mo­tion and I looked out the win­dow and I just saw th­ese three po­lice of­fi­cers go­ing over to a man.”

“It seemed like there was some­thing in his hand, I’m not 100 per cent sure, but then one of the po­lice of­fi­cers shot him.”

Po­lice con­firmed that the man died at the scene.

The mayor praised the “breath­tak­ing hero­ism of mem­bers of the public who lit­er­ally ran to­ward dan­ger not know­ing what con­fronted him.”

“They are the best of us,” Khan said.

Cars and buses on the busy bridge were at a stand­still af­ter the shoot­ing, with a white truck stopped di­ag­o­nally across the lanes. Video footage showed po­lice point­ing guns at the truck be­fore mov­ing to check its in­side con­tents.

Bri­tish Trans­port Po­lice said Lon­don Bridge sta­tion, one of the city’s busiest rail hubs, was closed and trains were not stop­ping there.

Scores of po­lice, some armed with sub­ma­chine guns, flooded the area, ush­er­ing of­fice work­ers and tourists out of of­fice build­ings, banks, restau­rants and bars. Staff in nearby of­fice blocks were told to re­main in­side.

The stab­bing Fri­day re­vived mem­o­ries of the June 2017 Lon­don Bridge at­tack, when three as­sailants in­spired by the Is­lamic State group ran down peo­ple on the bridge, killing two, be­fore stab­bing sev­eral peo­ple to death in nearby Bor­ough Mar­ket. That fa­tal at­tack took place days be­fore a gen­eral elec­tion.

Bri­tons are due to go to the polls again on Dec. 12.

Prime Min­is­ter Boris John­son’s of­fice said he was re­ceiv­ing up­dates on the stab­bing and was re­turn­ing to his 10 Down­ing Street of­fice from cam­paign­ing in his lo­cal con­stituency.

In March 2017, an at­tacker fa­tally struck four peo­ple with a car on nearby West­min­ster Bridge then fa­tally stabbed a po­lice of­fi­cer be­fore se­cu­rity forces shot and killed him in a court­yard out­side Par­lia­ment.

THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Po­lice sur­round a man on Lon­don Bridge Fri­day, in this photo from @HLOBlog, dur­ing what they’re call­ing mul­ti­ple “ter­ror­ist” stab­bings. Po­lice shot a man af­ter two peo­ple were stabbed to death.

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