Sunday, June 4, 2017

London Bridge and Borough Market Terror Attacks

The United Kingdom is facing the brunt of jihadi terrorism. Instead of being in denial, the government needs to introduce radical measures which may not be entirely in consonance with Western values of freedom and rule of law.

Attackers drove a van at high speed into pedestrians on London Bridge before going on a stabbing spree in the nearby Borough Market area on Saturday 3rd June 2017 at about 2210 hrs in what British authorities described as terrorist incidents. The attack lasted only about eight minutes before which the jihadis were neutralized. Authorities urged the people on Twitter to “run, hide, tell” if they were caught in an attack. Latest reports suggested that about seven people were killed and several injured and three attackers were also shot dead by the police.

The attacks come days ahead of a June 8 election and less than two weeks after a suicide bomber killed 22 people at a pop concert by U.S. singer Ariana Grande in Manchester in northern England. Though there was no immediate claim of responsibility, it does not require a rocket scientist to determine who the attackers were.

The BBC showed a photograph of two possible London attackers shot by police, one of whom had canisters strapped to his body.

A Reuters reporter said some time after the attack began that he had heard loud bangs near the Borough Market area.

Witnesses described a white van veering into pedestrians near London Bridge and knocking over several 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 hunting knives, 12 inches long and shouting "this is for Allah" went randomly along Borough High Street stabbing people at random.”

Islamic State earlier on Saturday sent out a call on instant messaging service Telegram urging its followers to launch attacks with trucks, knives and guns against “Crusaders” during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

An elite Special Air Service - SAS - unit nick named 'Blue Thunder' is believed to have landed on London Bridge following the attack. Blue Thunder, who act on orders from the Home Secretary, are a 70-man strong unit formed after the 2015 Paris attacks and trained in tackling domestic terror scenarios.

Blue Thunder’s name comes from the unmarked blue Eurocopter Dauphin helicopter in which they travel. Photographs appeared to capture two of the aircraft landing on London Bridge shortly after the vehicle and stabbing rampage.

The civilian style helicopter is used to transport Special Forces troops around the country quickly and covertly. 

Similar attacks, in Berlin, Nice, Brussels and Paris, have been carried out by militants over the past couple of years.

“Following updates from police and security officials, I can confirm that the terrible incident in London is being treated as a potential act of terrorism,” Prime Minister Theresa May said.

London’s river Thames police said it was working with the lifeboat rescue service to help evacuate people caught up in the attack, described by police as a terrorist incident.

U.S. President Donald Trump took to Twitter to offer U.S. help to Britain. The White House said he had been briefed on the incidents by his national security team.

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.


Police said they fired shots after reports of stabbings in the nearby Borough Market area. They also responded to an incident in the Vauxhall area further west, but later said it was unconnected to the van and knife attacks.

Streets around London Bridge and Borough Market, fashionable districts packed with bars and restaurants, would have been busy with people on a Saturday night out. BBC showed dozens of people, evidently caught up in the attack, being escorted through a police cordon with their hands on their heads.

BBC radio said witnesses saw people throwing tables and chairs at the perpetrators of the attack to protect themselves.

According to one witness, she saw a speeding white van veering into pedestrians at London Bridge. That witness told the BBC that the van hit five to six people. Reuters television footage showed dozens of emergency vehicles in the area around London Bridge. There were unconfirmed reports that it was a B&Q and Hertz van.

The incident bore similarities to a March 2017 attack on Westminster Bridge, west of London Bridge, in which a Muslim man Khalid Masood killed five people after driving into a crowd of pedestrians before stabbing a police officer in the grounds of Parliament.

Instead of being in denial, the government needs to introduce radical measures which may not be entirely democratic. These measures may include but may not be limited to deporting hate preachers, closing down places of worship where radicalism is fostered, curbing entry of so-called refugees/migrants and eliminating jihadis who have participated in the conflict in Syria/Iraq and returned to the UK. It is better to eliminate the terrorists before they cause mayhem than after carnage has taken place as it happened in the Borough market.

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