LONDON: British police on Friday (Nov 29) shot dead a man wearing a fake suicide vest who stabbed two people to death in London and injured three more before being wrestled to the ground by bystanders, in what the authorities called a terrorist attack.
The attacker went on the rampage just before 2pm (1400 GMT), targeting people at Fishmongers' Hall near London Bridge in the heart of the city's financial district - the scene of a deadly attack by militants two years ago.
"It is with the heaviest of hearts that I have to inform you that as well as the suspect who was shot dead by the police two of those injured in this attack in the London Bridge area have tragically lost their lives," said Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick.
"A male suspect was shot by specialist armed officers from the City of London police and I can confirm that this suspect died at the scene," the United Kingdom's top counter-terrorism officer, Neil Basu, told reporters.
A number of people were injured during the incident, which he declared a terrorist incident.
"We believe a device that was strapped to the body of the suspect was a hoax explosive device."
Half a dozen bystanders tackled the suspect to the ground and grabbed his knife. A video posted on Twitter showed police dragging one man off the suspect before an officer takes careful aim. Two shots ring out. The man stops moving.
As he looks back towards the melee, an armed police officer drags another person away from the man on the floor.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who has called a snap election for Dec 12 and is due to host NATO leaders including US President Donald Trump next week, returned to Downing Street and was updated on the incident.
"This is an appalling incident and all my thoughts are with the victims and their families," Johnson said in a statement. "I want to thank the emergency services and members of the public for their immense bravery."
"For me they represent the very best of our country and I thank them on behalf of all of our country," Johnson said. "This country will never be cowed, or divided, or intimidated by this sort of attack."
He said the incident was now thought to have been contained and vowed that anyone else involved would be hunted down.
One eyewitness told the BBC she and other people in the area rushed into a restaurant on the bridge and were told by staff to take cover.
"They went, 'Get under the table, shots have been fired. Gunshots'," said the woman.
London Bridge Station has since been closed, with trains not stopping at the station.
Basu asked the public to continue to avoid the London Bridge area and said that "extensive cordons" will remain in place as officers carry out searches in the area.
Singaporean Nadia Rosli, 26, was having lunch with a friend at Borough Market, located near London Bridge, when they heard screaming and saw people running out of the area.
"The few police officers that were outside were just directing everyone to go as far from the area as possible," said Nadia.
Nadia said that while she was running, she saw police cars arriving at the scene, with helicopters hovering overhead.
"I only found out what happened when I checked Twitter after we stopped running. Everyone was really confused, a lot of people were asking why we were running."
Ordinary Londoners demonstrated "breath-taking heroism" in disarming the knife-wielding attacker, the city's mayor Sadiq Khan said.
"What's remarkable about the images we've seen is the breath-taking heroism of members of the public who literally ran towards danger not knowing what confronted them," Khan told reporters, adding that the man had been wearing a fake bomb.
"Members of the public didn't realise at the time that was a hoax device, and they really are the best of us," Khan added.
Britain's opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said his thoughts were with those caught up in the "shocking" incident, and thanked the emergency services for their response.
"Shocking reports from London Bridge," Corbyn said on Twitter. "My thoughts are with those caught up in the incident. Thank you to the police and emergency services who are responding."
During the 2017 election campaign, London Bridge was the scene of an attack when three militants drove a van into pedestrians and then attacked people in the surrounding area, killing eight and injuring at least 48.
Islamic State said its fighters were responsible, but the British authorities have cast doubt on those claims.
The month before, a suicide bomber killed 22 children and adults and wounded 59 at a packed concert hall in the English city of Manchester, as crowds began leaving a concert by US singer Ariana Grande.
In March the same year, an attacker stabbed a policeman close to London's parliament buildings after a car ploughed into pedestrians on nearby Westminster Bridge.
Six people died, including the assailant and the policeman he stabbed, and at least 20 were injured in what police called a "marauding terrorist attack".