Terrorism struck at the heart of London, police said Sunday, after a vehicle veered off the road and mowed down pedestrians on London Bridge, and witnesses spoke of men with large knives stabbing passersby at nearby Borough Market in the U.K. capital.
Police said six people died in the attacks, while officers shot dead three suspects. The Metropolitan Police head of counterterrorism, Mark Rowley, said police believe all the attackers were killed, but investigations are underway to ensure there are no others.
The violence turned a summery Saturday night in an area packed with bars and restaurants into a scene of panic and chaos, with officers running through crowded streets screaming for people to flee and lifeboats drafted to help clear the area.
The Metropolitan Police force declared the attacks “terrorist incidents.”
London’s Ambulance Service said more than 30 people were taken to hospitals for treatment and a number of other patients were treated for less serious injuries in the centre of the city.
Hours after the attacks began, a large area of central London remained cordoned off and police told people to avoid the area, leaving tourists and revellers struggling to get home. It was unclear whether any of the attackers was on the run.
Bursts of gunfire echoed through the streets — likely from armed police — and at least three blasts rang out as police performed controlled explosions. One image taken by a witness showed a man on the ground surrounded by police; he appeared to be wearing a vest with canisters attached to it.
Gerard Vowls told the Guardian newspaper that he saw a woman being stabbed by three men at the south end of London Bridge. He said he threw chairs, glasses and bottles at the attackers in a bid to stop them.
“They kept coming to try to stab me. They were stabbing everyone. Evil, evil people,” he told the newspaper. “I want to know if this girl is still alive. I’ve been walking around for an hour and a half crying my eyes out. I don’t know what to do.”