On 3 June 2017 a terrorist attack took place in the Southwark district of London, England. Three men drove a van into pedestrians on London Bridge. Wielding knives, the men then left the van and went to the nearby Borough Market, where they stabbed people in and around restaurants and pubs. The attackers were believed to be Islamist terrorists.
Seven people were killed and 48 wounded, including four unarmed police officers who attempted to tackle the assailants. The three attackers, who were wearing fake explosive vests, were shot dead by police. The Metropolitan Police declared the attack a terrorist incident. Twelve people were arrested and four properties raided the following day, with further raids on the day after.
At around 21:58 BST (UTC+1), a white van travelling north to south across London Bridge mounted the pavement and hit pedestrians. After their van crashed outside the Barrowboy and Banker pub on Borough High Street, the three attackers, wearing fake explosive vests, ran to Stoney Street adjoining Borough Market, where they stabbed four people in the Borough Bistro pub. The attack occurred shortly after the incident on the bridge. Some pub-goers attempted to defend themselves by throwing bottles, chairs and other items.
People in and around a number of other restaurants, including Brindisa, El Pastor, Roast, Black and Blue and the Wheatsheaf pub, were also attacked. A witness reported the attackers shouted “This is for Allah.” Florin Morariu, a Romanian baker, hit one of the attackers over the head with a crate before giving shelter to 20 people inside Bread Ahead, a bakery in the market. The three attackers were shot dead by armed officers from the Metropolitan and City of London Police outside the Wheatsheaf eight minutes after the initial 999 emergency call was made. A total of 46 rounds were fired by three City of London and five Metropolitan police officers.
The Metropolitan Police asked the public to run and hide from an attack, and to remain calm and vigilant. All buildings within the vicinity of the bridge were evacuated, and London Bridge, Borough and Bank tube stations were closed at the request of the police. Waterloo East, Charing Cross and Cannon Street mainline stations were also closed. The Home Secretary approved the deployment of an SAS counterterrorist unit from 22nd SAS Regiment, transported by No. 658 Squadron AAC. The unit was flown in to London Bridge to support the Metropolitan Police, as at that time, there were concerns that there might be more attackers at large.
The Metropolitan Police dispatched boats onto the River Thames, with assistance from the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI), to contribute to the evacuation of the area and look for possible casualties fallen from the bridge. At 01:45 BST on 4 June, controlled explosions took place to make safe the attackers’ bomb vests, which were found to be fake.
A stabbing incident took place in Vauxhall at 23:45 BST, causing Vauxhall station to be briefly closed. The stabbing was later confirmed to be unrelated to the terrorist attack.
An emergency COBRA meeting was held on the morning of 4 June. London Bridge mainline and Underground stations remained closed throughout 4 June, while Borough tube station reopened that evening. A large cordon was established around the scene of the attack and it was expected that the closed bridge and roads would result in substantial disruption on 5 June. London Bridge station was reopened at 05:00 on 5 June.
Seven members of the public, including a Canadian and a French citizen, were killed, as were the three attackers. Another 48 people were injured in the attack including one New Zealander, four Australians, two Germans and four French citizens; of the 48 injured, 21 are in critical condition.
Four police officers were injured in the attack. An unarmed officer from the British Transport Police was stabbed and suffered serious injuries to his head, face and neck. An off-duty Metropolitan Police officer also tried to tackle the attackers and was seriously injured when he was stabbed. Two other Metropolitan Police officers received head and arm injuries.
One member of the public was accidentally shot by police and sustained a non-life-threatening injury to the head.
On 4 June, the Home Secretary Amber Rudd said, “We are confident about the fact that they were radical Islamic terrorists, the way they were inspired, and we need to find out more about where this radicalisation came from.” Later that day, the ISIS-affiliated Amaq News Agency said the attackers were Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant fighters.
On 5 June, the Metropolitan Police identified two of the attackers as Khuram Shazad Butt (born 20 April 1990), a British citizen born in Pakistan, and Rachid Redouane (born 31 July 1986), who claimed to be either Moroccan or Libyan and who was not previously known to police. The third attacker’s identity has not yet been released.
Butt was a 27-year-old whose family came from Jhelum, Pakistan, but who grew up in Britain and lived in Plaistow. He was an associate of the banned extremist group al-Muhajiroun, which has been linked with other terrorist suspects in the UK. He worked on the London transport system and had a wife and two children. He was well known for holding extreme views and was barred from two local mosques. In 2016, he appeared in a Channel 4 Television documentary The Jihadis Next Door, which showed him arguing with police over the unfurling of an ISIS flag in Regent’s Park. A former friend stated that he had been radicalised by watching YouTube videos by the American hate preacher Ahmad Musa Jibril and had been reported by friends, but the authorities had apparently taken no action.
On the morning of 4 June, police made twelve arrests following raids in flats in the Barking area of east London, where one of the attackers lived; controlled explosions were carried out during the raids. Those held included five males aged between 27 and 55, arrested at one address in Barking, and six females aged between 19 and 60, arrested at a separate Barking address. One of the arrested males was subsequently released without charge. Four properties were being searched, including two in Newham in addition to the two in Barking. Further raids and arrests were made at properties in Newham and Barking early on the morning of 5 June.
Prime Minister Theresa May returned to Downing Street from campaigning for the general election. May later said the incident was being treated as terrorism, and that the recent terror attacks in the UK are “bound together by the single evil ideology of Islamist extremism” which “is a perversion of Islam”. She called for tighter internet regulations to “deprive the extremists of their safe spaces online”, saying that technology firms were not currently doing enough. It was reported that one of the attackers had been radicalised by watching YouTube videos by the American hate preacher Ahmad Musa Jibril and had been reported by friends, but the authorities had apparently taken no action. May’s stance on the role of the internet and social media in enabling radicalisation was criticised by the Open Rights Group and some academic experts on radicalisation, one of whom said May was “intellectually lazy”.
Leader of the Opposition Jeremy Corbyn, Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron, and Mayor of London Sadiq Khan all wrote on Twitter that their thoughts were with those affected and expressed thanks to the emergency services. Khan described the attack as “deliberate and cowardly” and condemned it “in the strongest possible terms”. He later said that “the city remains one of the safest in the world” and there was “no reason to be alarmed” over the increased police presence around the city.
The Conservative Party, Labour Party, Liberal Democrats and Scottish National Party suspended national election campaigns for a day after the attack. UKIP chose not to suspend its campaigning; leader Paul Nuttall said it was “what the extremists would want”. May confirmed that the general election would go ahead as scheduled on 8 June. The BBC cancelled or postponed a number of political programmes due to air on 4 June. Harun Khan, secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain also condemned the attack.
Condolences, expressions of shock, support, solidarity and sympathy were offered by many national governments and supranational bodies.