London Authorities have 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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.”
Trump later called attacks “horrific” and said he spoke with May to “express our unwavering support.” Trump said the U.S. will do everything in its power to “bring those that are guilty to justice.”