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article imageLondon attack: What we know

By AFP     Jun 5, 2017 in World

Seven people were killed in a terror attack in the British capital on Saturday when a van smashed into pedestrians on London Bridge before three assailants went on a stabbing spree.

The attackers were shot dead by the police at the scene.

Here is what we know about the attack:

- What happened? -

Police received reports of a van speeding into pedestrians on London Bridge at 10:08pm (2108 GMT).

After deliberately swerving into people, the van crashed on the wrong side of the road into fencing and a traffic light by Southwark Cathedral, on the south side of the bridge.

The three men inside then went on a stabbing rampage in the popular Borough Market area, its bars packed with people enjoying a night out.

Eyewitnesses said they shouted: "This is for Allah".

Police officers were quickly on the scene and the three assailants were shot and killed within eight minutes of the first call to emergency services.

The attackers were wearing fake suicide vests.

- The victims -

Bouquets of flowers are left at a pedestrian crossing by Borough market in London on June 5  2017
Bouquets of flowers are left at a pedestrian crossing by Borough market in London on June 5, 2017
Justin TALLIS, AFP

Seven people were killed and 48 others were initially admitted to hospital. Of these, 32 are still being treated, 15 of whom are in critical condition.

Canadian charity worker Christine Archibald, 30; Australian nurse Kirsty Boden, 28; Londoner James McMullan, 32; and a French bistro worker identified only as Alexandre were among those killed in the attack.

The wounded included people from Bulgaria, Germany, Greece, Spain and New Zealand.

An unarmed, off-duty police officer, a business journalist and a transport policeman were among those stabbed as they tried to help others.

- The perpetrators -

The three assailants were shot dead
The three assailants were shot dead
Gabriele SCIOTTO, AFP

London's Metropolitan Police have identified the attackers as Khuram Shazad Butt, Rachid Redouane and Youssef Zaghba.

Butt, 27, was a British citizen born in Pakistan known to security services and even featured in a television documentary entitled "The Jihadis Next Door".

He was investigated in 2015 but he was "prioritised in the lower echelons of our investigative work" and there was no evidence of "attack planning", police said.

Redouane was 30 and "claimed to be Moroccan and Libyan", national counter-terrorism police chief Mark Rowley said in a statement. Ireland's national broadcaster RTE reported that Redouane had an Irish residency card and had lived in Dublin.

Butt and Redouane both lived in Barking in suburban east London.

Police said Zaghba was an Italian national of Moroccan descent, living in east London.

Police said neither he nor Redouane was known to police or security services.

The Islamic State jihadist group claimed responsibility for Saturday's attack.

- The investigation -

The police probe has centred on the east London suburb of Barking, where Butt and Redouane lived, with several raids and arrests taking place.

Twelve people were arrested in Barking: seven women and five men -- 11 of them at the same address -- aged 19 to 60. They were all later released without charge.

A 13th, a 27-year-old man, was arrested in Barking on Tuesday and a search was taking place in the town.

The white Renault van used in the assault was recently rented by one of the attackers, police said.

London police said more officers -- armed and unarmed -- would be deployed across the city, and there would be additional security measures on the city's bridges.

Prime Minister Theresa May said she expected the police and security services to review how they dealt with the attack.

- The political aftermath -

Police forensic officers work near Borough Market in London on June 4  2017
Police forensic officers work near Borough Market in London on June 4, 2017
NIKLAS HALLE'N, AFP

The attack came just five days before Thursday's general election and has dominated the debate since.

The main Labour opposition, led by Jeremy Corbyn, has attacked May for cutting police numbers by 20,000 while interior minister from 2010 to 2016.

May's Conservatives have insisted that counter-terrorism budgets and the number of armed officers -- British police do not regularly carry arms -- have risen.

They also highlighted Corbyn's history of voting against anti-terror legislation, his unease at shoot-to-kill policies and his relations with Sinn Fein at a time when it was the political arm of the Irish Republican Army.

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