LONDON — Two people were fatally stabbed and several others were wounded in a terror attack at the London Bridge Friday afternoon, officials said.
Police shot and killed the male suspect at the scene after members of the public intervened.
Scotland Yard officials identified the suspect as Usman Khan, 28.
“This individual was known to authorities, having been convicted in 2012 for terrorism offenses. He was released from prison in December 2018 on license and clearly, a key line of inquiry now is to establish how he came to carry out this attack,” Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu said Friday night.
Khan was living in Staffordshire and police were searching his address late Friday.
“I am deeply saddened and angered that our city of London has again been targeted by terrorism,” said Cressida Dick, commissioner of the Metropolitan Police.
Scotland Yard said that a man and a woman were killed in the attack and that the three who were wounded — a man and two women — remained in the hospital late Friday night.
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Earlier in the day, Basu confirmed that specialist officers were called in response to reports that the suspect was wearing an explosive vest.
“However, I can confirm at this time we believe a device that was strapped to the body of the suspect was a hoax device,” he said.
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“Officers continue to carry out meticulous searches in the area to ensure there is no outstanding threat to the public.”
Dick said the attack began in the Fishmongers Hall area of London, noting that police confronted the attacker five minutes after they were notified at 1:58 p.m. local time.
She warned that the area would see an increased police presence for the foreseeable future in response to the incident.
“In the coming days you will see more police armed and unarmed patrolling our streets to help reassure those who are understandably concerned,” Dick said.
Hours after the London attack, several people were stabbed in a shopping district of The Hague, Dutch Police said. Dutch national broadcaster NOS reported that there was no immediate evidence that pointed toward a terrorist motive for that knife attack.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson spoke shortly after the London incident, using the opportunity to praise emergency services and members of the public who intervened.
He called them “the very best of our country” and promised authorities would bring anyone involved in the attacks to justice.
“I pay tribute again to the work of the police and the emergency services and what they have done. But I would urge everybody, of course, to be vigilant. One cannot help but think back to what happened in 2017, in the same part of the city,” he said, referring to another terror attack on London Bridge in 2017, in which eight people died and 48 were injured. “And I hope very much that people will be able, as fast as possible, to go about their normal business.”
Johnson said he would temporarily pause his general election campaign in response to the attack. His party is currently facing another election only months after Johnson became prime minister after failing to secure a Brexit deal with the European Union that satisfied Parliament.
Meanwhile, hours after the attack, the surrounding area was cordoned off and bus, subway and train stations were closed. Shops and restaurants in the area remained evacuated.
Video posted to social media from eyewitnesses appeared to show armed police and members of the public crowd around a person on the ground on the north side of the bridge.
The attack was first reported just before 2 p.m. (9 a.m. ET). Soon after, Transport for London confirmed that London Bridge station, a major terminal for commuters across the southeast of England, was closed.
At the same time, the London Ambulance Service declared a major incident and confirmed it had a number of crews at the scene.
Julian Hasslacher, 40, from Bristol, was supposed to deliver legal documents to a law firm near London Bridge by 4 p.m. but was unable to get through because of a police cordon.
“It’s difficult to say I guess,” he said, when asked for his reaction. “A strange mixture of shock and you know I guess inevitability that this is something we live with now. It’s sad.”
Susan Vinn, 57, who works in an office with views of London Bridge said she first noticed something was amiss when crowds of people started running around the building.
“We were out here having a cigarette,” she said. “Horrible, really — it’s become a way of life hasn’t it?”
She said she didn’t worry about her safety, however.
“You just have to get on with it,” she said. “If you worried about it every day you’d never get on a train and come into London and you wouldn’t have a job and you couldn’t work.”
London Mayor Sadiq Khan thanked emergency services in a statement.
“We must — and we will — stay resolute in our determination to stand strong and united in the face of terror,” he said. “Those who seek to attack us and divide us will never succeed.”
The White House confirmed that President Donald Trump had been briefed on the attack.
Smith and Givetash reported from London, McCausland reported from New York.