World Europe First Look

London attack: investigation continues as Britain responds to another blow

After Saturday's terrorist attack that began on the London Bridge left seven people dead, Londoners cautiously return to daily life as Thursday's general election nears.

A woman kneels next to a flower memorial on the south side of London Bridge on Monday, June 5, 2017, after three attackers left seven people dead and many injured Saturday evening.
Clodagh Kilcoyne/Reuters
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Caption
  • Lori Hinnant and Gregory Katz
    Associated Press

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.

London's police chief has said the attackers have been identified, but the names haven't been released. At least 12 people were arrested Sunday, including five men and seven women ranging in age from 19 to 60. One has since been released without being charged.

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.

IS has claimed responsibility for three attacks in Britain since March, and Commissioner 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.

Prime Minister Theresa 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.

She said police know the identity of the three attackers but will not release them yet because of the ongoing investigation. Police and intelligence services are trying to determine what backup support they might have had.

The country's major political parties temporarily suspended campaigning with only days to go before Thursday's general election. Ms. 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. Mr. Corbyn called for May to resign because of her role in cutting police staffing during her tenure as home secretary.

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, 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!"

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.

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. Mr. Khan and Dick were briefly heckled by a man who called for more police to be put on the streets.