LONDON: Seven people were killed, in addition to three assailants shot dead by police, in a "terrorist" attack late Saturday (Jun 3) at London Bridge and Borough Market in central London.
At least 48 others were injured in the attack, which was the third for the United Kingdom since March.
It led Prime Minister Theresa May to call for a review of Britain's counter-terrorism laws, saying "enough is enough".
Just past 10 pm local time, a van ploughed into pedestrians, reportedly at high speed, on London Bridge. The suspects jumped out and stabbed several people in Borough Market.
"The suspects were wearing what looked like explosive vests but these were later established to be hoaxes," Britain's head of counter-terrorism Mark Rowley said.
Police said the three men were shot by a police armed response team within eight minutes of receiving the first call at 10:08 pm (2108 GMT).
48 people were rushed to hospitals in the area, the London Ambulance Service said. "We have also treated a number of people at the scene for less serious injuries," said assistant director of operations, Peter Rhodes.
A third incident reported in the nearby Vauxhall area proved to be an unrelated stabbing.
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan condemned the attacks as "barbaric". "This was a deliberate and cowardly attack on innocent Londoners and visitors to our city enjoying their Saturday night," he said, adding: "There is no justification whatsoever for such barbaric acts".
The attack took place only minutes after the end of the Champions League final between Real Madrid and Juventus, in an area teeming with bars where many fans were watching the football on television.
One of the men suspected of being behind the attack was shown in a photograph lying on the ground with canisters strapped to his body after he was shot by the police.
The possible attacker was shown on the ground outside the Wheatsheaf pub in Borough Market near London Bridge. Another man was seen lying on the ground a short distance away in the photograph.
Prime Minister Theresa May confirmed that the "terrible incident in London is being treated as a potential act of terrorism". "This is a fast-moving investigation," she said. "I want to express my huge gratitude to the police and emergency services who are on the scene. Our thoughts are with those who are caught up in these dreadful events."
Separately, interior minister Amber Rudd told ITV television later that the attackers were probably "radical Islamist terrorists".
However, she declined to comment on whether the perpetrators of the attack had been known to authorities before Saturday.
"The operation is ongoing so we are finding out more about who these three are," he said.
One eyewitness, Alessandro, told BBC radio that he saw a van strike several people on London Bridge.
"I saw this van going left and right, left and right, trying to catch as many people as he could. And people just tried to get out of the way of the van. Then I tried to help people, wounded people."
Of the casualties, he said: "Three of them, yes (were conscious), and one guy was not talking at all, was just, like, down. There were five or six people that we tried to help, they were young people."
"A van came from London Bridge itself, went between the traffic light system and rammed it towards the steps," a taxi driver told the BBC. "It knocked loads of people down.
"Then three men got out with long blades, 12 inches long and went randomly along Borough High Street stabbing people at random."
BBC reporter Holly Jones said she saw the van driven by a man travelling "at about 50 miles (80 kilometres) an hour". "There's several police boats with torchlights searching the Thames at the moment," she told BBC radio.
Another eyewitness Dee, 26, told the AFP that after a van crashed into the fences on London Bridge: "There was a man with a knife, he was running. He came down the stairs and went to the bar."
Gerard Kavanar, 46, said he had seen a chef with "blood on his shoulder" in the area.
Facebook has activated its safety check function for people in London to let their loved ones know they are safe.
STABBINGS ON THE STREET
One woman told Reuters she saw what appeared to be three people with knife wounds and possibly their throats cut at London Bridge at the Thames river. Reuters was unable to immediately verify her account.
Several witnesses also reported hearing gunshots.
Husband and wife Ben and Natalie told BBC Radio 5 Live they were outside Borough Market when they witnessed the incident there.
Ben said: "We saw people running away and then I saw a man in red with a large blade - at a guess 10 inches long - stabbing a man, about three times.
"It looked like the man had been trying to intervene, but there wasn't much he could do. He was being stabbed quite coldly and he slumped to the ground."
Ben said the man then walked towards the Southwark Tavern. He said they saw a metal chair being thrown towards the man. "Then we heard three gunshots, definitely gunshots, and we ran."
The incident comes days ahead of a Jun 8 election, with polls suggesting the lead of Prime Minister May's Conservative Party has dropped sharply.
It is also reminiscent of the Mar 22 Westminster Bridge terror attack in the city in which five people were killed and more than 50 wounded.
The assailant in that attack, 52-year-old Khalid Mahmood, rammed his car into pedestrians before crashing into the barriers surrounding parliament and then stabbing a police officer to death.
He was then shot dead by police at the scene. Investigators later described the lone-wolf attack as "Islamist-related terrorism".
Saturday's attacks also come less than two weeks after 22 people, including seven children, were killed in a suicide bombing at the end of a pop concert at the Manchester Arena.