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London van attack kills 7, delays campaigning

By Conal Urquhart in London | China Daily | Updated: 2017-06-05 07:38

 London van attack kills 7, delays campaigning

People disperse along Borough High Street following the London Bridge van attack and subsequent stabbings in which seven people were confirmed killed and dozens hurt. The suspected perpetrators were shot by police.Dominic Lipinski/press Association Via Ap

Campaigning for Britain's general election was suspended for a day after British police said seven people were killed and 48 others injured when a white van mowed down pedestrians on London Bridge in the city's center, and three attackers were shot dead after stabbing several victims at nearby Borough Market on Saturday night.

UK Prime Minister Theresa May held an emergency meeting of COBRA, the government committee that coordinates intelligence matters, on Sunday and afterward said: "The whole of the country needs to come together to counter this extremism. We need to review our counterterrorism strategy, to see police have everything they need."

She added: "It is time to say enough is enough."

Both the ruling Conservatives and the Labour Party confirmed they would suspend national campaigning ahead of Thursday's general election, although the minority UKIP party said it would continue.

The attackers drove a white van at pedestrians on London Bridge before coming to a halt near Borough Market, a popular bar and restaurant quarter. The men then attacked anyone they could find with knives before being shot dead by police eight minutes after the incident had begun.

The attacks took place outside and inside bars and restaurants. In some places the attackers were repelled by people throwing chairs and bottles at them. An unarmed policeman who confronted them was one of the injured.

The London Ambulance Service said they took 48 people to six hospitals around the capital, most suffering from stab wounds and collision injuries.

May confirmed the three attackers were wearing fake bomb vests. She said police had foiled five terrorist plots since March. She said the recent attacks were all connected to Islamist extremism and that the "safe spaces" where it was allowed to breathe on the internet, in British communities and foreign countries such as Libya and Syria must be challenged.

But she said the London Bridge attack was not directly linked to a similar one on Westminster Bridge in March that killed five or a bomb attack on a pop concert in Manchester. The attack comes less than two weeks after a man blew himself up at the Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, killing 22 people.

Saturday's attack happened just south of London's financial district. The French government confirmed that at least two of its citizens were injured and at least one Australian and a New Zealander are being treated at a hospital. The Chinese embassy said so far no Chinese nationals had been hurt.

The area of the attack remained closed on Sunday as police officers searched for evidence. Cressida Dick, the head of the Metropolitan police, said authorities did not know the identity of the attackers but that they believed the incident had been contained.

Leaders from all over the world condemned the London attack. US President Donald Trump spoke with May after the attack and Russian President Vladimir Putin said the London Bridge attack is "shocking in its cruelty and cynicism".

European leaders including Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron, Italian Premier Paolo Gentiloni, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy have voiced solidarity with the British government and expressed condolences to the victims in the London attacks.

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