British general election to go ahead despite new attack on London, says May

Source:Xinhua Published: 2017/6/4 23:52:54

Photo taken on April 19, 2017 shows a general view of the "Big Ben" in London, Britain. (Xinhua/Tim Ireland)

With at least seven people killed and 48 others injured, and three attackers shot dead by police, London's emergency services and politicians reacted Sunday to the latest attack on the British capital.

British Prime Minister Theresa May held a meeting in Whitehall of the country's emergency service as the major political parties suspended campaigning for the general election. Only UKIP decided to carry on, saying to disrupt campaigning is what terrorists want.

With the election just four days away, cancelling campaigning for the second time is unprecedented. It was suspended for four days following the recent attack in Manchester.

May said the election will go ahead as planned on Thursday and campaigning will resume Monday.

She said in the light of changing threats there will be a major review of Britain's counter-terrorism strategy.

She added the new threat is that terrorism is breeding terrorism, with copycat attacks, adding "enough of enough".

May said there have been three acts of terrorism, all unlinked, in recent months, one in Manchester and two in London, but police and security services had disrupted five credible terrorist plots.

London Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick said the three suspects were shot and killed just eight minutes after the first emergency calls were received by police that pedestrians had been struck on London Bridge. Those people headed to the city's Borough Market restaurant area where they started to randomly stab people with blades and knives, shouting "this is for Ala" as they struck people enjoying a night out.

A large area around London Bridge and Borough Market was sealed off by police, with people trapped inside buildings 12 hours after the attack told to stay inside until police reached them.

Dick praised police, emergency service workers and members of the public for extreme acts of bravery in the face of the attack, saying their actions had without doubt saved lives.

She said the killing of the three attackers meant the incident was over, but a widespread investigation would continue.

Met Assistant Commissioner said: "We are reviewing and planning to strengthen our policing stance across London over the forthcoming days, and there will be additional police and officers deployed across the capital."

Home Secretary Amber Rudd said: "This was a horrific attack in the heart of our capital city, targeted at people enjoying their evening with friends and family. As ever, in difficult and traumatic circumstances, I am extremely proud of and thankful to our police and emergency services who responded so swiftly and those who will work tirelessly as the investigation into this appalling act continues."

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said: "I hope we will reflect on the need to have sufficient police officers on our streets, but also sufficient intelligence to look at the terrorist threat.

"In response, as in Manchester, all communities must come together. Our strength is the strength of our community unity. That was shown in Manchester straight after the horrible event there and I'm sure it will be the same in London."

Political commentators are speculating that the wave of attacks will boost the governing Conservatives in Thursday's election.

Asked about that question, Corbyn refused to be drawn and said at the moment those who died should be mourned and those who helped during the London attack should be thanked.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan said: "What we witnessed last night was a terrible incident of terror. Our thoughts are with the victims and their families. London remains strong."

Dr Samantha Newbery, a lecturer in contemporary intelligence at the University of Salford, described counter terrorism as a very difficult task.

"It covers the whole range from identifying radicalised people, through to reacting to incidents," she said, adding that what potential terrorists "had in their heads" was difficult to know.

In Manchester, organizers of the Ariana Grande concert later Sunday will go ahead as planned. The event is to raise funds for the families of those caught up in the Manchester Arena suicide bombing on May 22 which left 22 dead.

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