(CNN) The death toll has risen to seven with a further 48 injured following last night’s terror attack in central London, the second major act of terrorism to strike the United Kingdom in less than two weeks.
The attack began late Saturday night, when a white van swerved into crowds of pedestrians on London Bridge, leaving bodies lying in the roadway, according to witness reports. At least one pedestrian is thought to have jumped into the Thames to escape being hit.
The suspects are then believed to have exited the van and proceeded on foot towards the nearby area of Borough Market, one of the capital’s most popular nightlife spots.
Eyewitnesses spoke of abject panic as three men armed with “foot-long” knives burst into packed restaurants and cafes, slashing at those inside indiscriminately. Many customers fought off the attackers, using chairs, pint glasses and bottles. Others hid behind tables and inside bathrooms or attempted to flee.
In total, the marauding attack lasted approximately eight minutes, according to police, who shot dead all three known suspects at the scene. At least one of the suspects appeared to be wearing a suicide bomb vest, though this was later confirmed by police to be a hoax.
The London Ambulance Service, who dispatched upwards of 80 medics to help deal with the incident, said at least 48 people were taken to five hospitals across the capital, with many more treated at the scene. French and Australian nationals have been confirmed by their respective governments as among those affected.
A police officer who was responding to the attack on London Bridge was also stabbed. The officer received serious but not life-threatening injuries, according to an official police statement.
Heightened state of terror
The third terrorist attack to have occurred in the UK this year and the second in London, Saturday’s attack will renew the debate around the safety of the capital in light of the increased terror threat.
In a press conference Sunday morning, London Mayor Sadiq Khan praised the quick police response and asked Londoners to remain calm and vigilant. This is the second time Khan has addressed the public in response to a terror attack since becoming mayor, and he repeated his previous insistence that London remains one of the safest global cities in the world.
“We will not be cowered by terrorism and we will not let them win,” said Khan, who promised an increased police presence throughout the capital in the coming days.
For many in London, Saturday’s attack will be a grim reminder of the events on Westminster Bridge on March 22, when Khalid Masood drove a car into pedestrians, killing four and injuring 50, before stabbing a police officer to death at the entrance to parliament. The attacker — who reportedly had a criminal record and may have had connections to violent extremism — was gunned down by a police officer.
Khan is expected to join British Prime Minister Theresa May at an emergency meeting of Cobra — the UK’s emergency crisis committee — Sunday in response to the attack. May had earlier labeled the attack as “terrible incident.”