British counterterrorism investigators searched two homes Monday and detained “a number” of people in the investigation into a van and knife attack in the heart of London that left seven people dead.
Dozens were injured, many of them critically, in the attack that started on the London Bridge, when three attackers swerved the vehicle into pedestrians then, armed with knives, rampaged through Borough Market, slashing and stabbing anyone they could find.
The three men, who wore fake suicide vests, were shot to death by police. The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility.
Prime Minister Theresa May says police have identified all the London Bridge attackers and that 11 people remain in custody for possible connections to the attack. One person has been released without charge. Police raids are continuing.
Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick said she wouldn’t release further details in what she described as a fast-moving investigation. She wouldn’t say whether authorities were familiar with the men before the attack.
ISIL has claimed responsibility for three attacks in Britain since March, and Dick described the recent wave of violence as “unprecedented in my working life.”
“We in this country have faced a terrorist threat throughout my life — it changed and morphed and we will change and adapt to what appears to be a new reality for us,” she said.
Neighbors of one of the dead suspects in the London Bridge attacks say he was trying to radicalize young people, and that they reported him to police.
Jibril Palomba said he and his wife worried because the man, whom they knew as Abu Mohammed and recognized in photos of the attack, gave their children candy and preached about Islam. Erica Gasparri said she also saw him and two other men proselytizing outside a school.
Another neighbor, Michael Mimbo, said the van later used to ram pedestrians on the bridge was blocking the road at the suspect’s housing complex on Friday. The next day, Mimbo says that same van sped erratically down the street.
An emergency medical consultant at one of the London hospitals treating injured of Saturday’s attack said on Monday there are still some patients in critical care.
Speaking outside King’s College Hospital, Dr Malcolm Tunnicliff, who leads the emergency department told British broadcaster SKY News that eight among 14 of his patients were still in critical care.
“The nature of injuries we saw are predominantly stab wounds, something here in our team are used to deal with, but we also saw some blunt traumas as well probably as a result to been hit by the van that was riven over London Bridge”, he said.
The parents of Australian national, Candice Hedge, who was injured in Saturday’s attacks spoke of their daughter’s ordeal on Monday.
Hedge, a 34-year-old waitress, had been living in Britain for about a year and was working in the Borough Market area of London where witnesses said she was stabbed as she tried to hide under a table.
Kim Del Toro and Ross Hedge said their daughter had undergone surgery and she was recovering well.
Australia’s Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said Hedge was recovering in Saint Thomas’ Hospital and another Australian, Andrew Morrison, had received stitches for a wound and was on his way home to Australia.
Morrison was stabbed while leaving a bar where he watched the Champions League soccer final. Both had been stabbed in the neck.
Streets of London “surprisingly normal”
Commuters and cyclists were back on the streets of south London Monday morning, elbowing past journalists and camera crews on Southwark Bridge Road’s narrow sidewalks.
A commuter, Martin Howells, said things were calm but not unusually so. Standing near a lamp post smashed in the attack, he said: “It was really not different, it was surprisingly normal.”
Most of the London Underground stations reopened Monday in the neighborhood where the attack took place, allowing life to resume after more than 24 hours of lockdown. Some residents cooped up inside all day Sunday emerged from their homes for the first time since the attacks.
“We were all stuck!” said Marcia Rainford, a 58-year-old who said she was sealed into her building complex with her mother and two children.
“We got blocked in. One whole day,” she said. Luckily she had a full fridge. “I always stock up!”
Farhad Ahmad and Hazik Rahman, two members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community, said they had been out since dawn answering questions from locals and reporters about Islam.
Ahmad, a 25-year-old imam, said he came at 6 o’clock. He said: “We’ve spoken to seven to eight people. We feel that a lot of people do have questions in their minds.”
His companion, Rahman, wore a blue hoodie with the words “Muslims for Humanity.”
Political campaigning suspended
Prime Minister May warned that the country faced a new threat from copycat attacks. She said Britain must do “more, much more” to combat what she called the perverted ideology of radical Islam.
The country’s major political parties temporarily suspended campaigning with only days to go before Thursday’s general election. May said the vote would take place as scheduled Thursday because “violence can never be allowed to disrupt the democratic process.”
The political tempo picked up again Monday with May saying opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn is unfit to handle security and Brexit. Corbyn called for May to resign because of her role in cutting police staffing during her tenure as home secretary.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan and Police Commissioner Dick have toured the site of the attack and praised the quick police work that they said prevented further deaths.
Khan described the actions as “cowardly” and “evil” and not representative of Islam.
Sadiq Khan said he was “angry and furious” that the three men had used Islam, a faith he belongs to, to justify their actions.
Khan condemned the attack and said added the men’s ideology was perverse and poisonous and has no place in Islam.
Dick said Monday the attack was “ghastly,” but that Londoners are pulling together and refusing to be cowed by extremists.
She said providing more firearms for London police wouldn’t be a sensible solution to the increased tempo of attacks, saying the strategy of having special mobile units of heavily armed officers is effective. Khan and Dick were briefly heckled by a man who called for more police to be put on the streets.
Story by the Associated Press