‘You Won’t Break Us. You Won’t Break Us, Ever’; London Defiant As Police Arrest 12 In Bridge Attack

By Erik Kirschbaum and Laura King Los Angeles Times

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) In a televised statement from her official residence at 10 Downing Street, Prime Minister Theresa May unleashed tough rhetoric against what she called "a single evil ideology of Islamist extremism."

Los Angeles Times

As Prime Minister Theresa May called for stepped-up action to combat Islamist extremism, British police on Sunday reported 12 arrests in connection with the vehicle-and-slashing attack that left seven people dead and dozens injured in the heart of London.

White-clad forensics technicians scoured for clues and police in black body armor patrolled the scene of Saturday night's assault, which began with a rented white Renault van ramming pedestrians on historic London Bridge and continued with a terrifying knife rampage by three attackers in the crowded riverside nightlife district of Borough Market.

Londoners and visitors from across the globe flocked to the scene -- as close as they could get, behind police cordons -- to lay flowers and express defiance amid their grief.

"It's to show our solidarity," said Chris Prentice, a 40-year-old British photographer who lives in the city. He was in jeans and stubble as he set down a bouquet. "It's a message: 'You won't break us. You won't break us, ever.'"

Even in a country still reeling from a major assault less than two weeks ago, in the northern city of Manchester, determined resilience seemed to be the order of the day.

London's mayor, Sadiq Khan, tweeted that "we will never be cowed by terrorism."

A benefit concert Sunday evening in Manchester, a tribute to and benefit for those victims, drew some 50,000 people who appeared to thrill to an opening exhortation: to not be afraid.

As the Saturday night assault unfolded in London, some customers in pubs and restaurants scattered in panic -- but others fought back by hurling bottles, beer mugs and even tables and chairs at the knife-wielding attackers, witnesses said.

Police, whose response has been honed by two previous large-scale attacks over the last three months, shot the trio of attackers dead within eight minutes of the first distress calls.

In a country where police rarely draw their weapons, police acknowledged Sunday that a bystander had been wounded in the fusillade of gunfire -- 50 bullets fired by eight officers -- directed at the attackers. The civilian's injuries were not life-threatening, police said.

President Trump, who had caused a stir the evening before when his initial reaction to the attack included a call to reinstitute his court-blocked travel ban, tweeted criticism Sunday morning of Khan, asserting that the mayor had said there was "no reason to be alarmed!"

Khan on Sunday had in fact urged Londoners to be vigilant and not to be surprised or worried by an increased police presence in coming days. He told the public: "I'm reassured we are one of the safest global cities in the world."

With the investigation still in its early stages, May -- who is facing a general election this week -- unleashed tough rhetoric against what she called "a single evil ideology of Islamist extremism" without linking a particular group or network to the latest strike.

"Enough is enough," she said as expressions of sympathy and solidarity continued to pour in from across the world. At the Vatican, Pope Francis offered prayers for the victims at his weekly Sunday blessing.

In a televised statement from her official residence at 10 Downing Street, where flags had been lowered to half-staff, the prime minister grimly cautioned that the attack marked a "new trend in the threat we face" -- assaults in which both methods and ideology echoed those of previous strikes.

"While the recent attacks are not connected by common networks, they are connected in one important sense. They are bound together by the single, evil ideology of Islamist extremism that preaches hatred, sows division, and promotes sectarianism," said May, clad in a dark suit and peering into the cameras. "It is an ideology that claims our Western values of freedom, democracy and human rights are incompatible with the religion of Islam. It is an ideology that is a perversion of Islam and a perversion of the truth. Defeating this ideology is one of the great challenges of our time," said the prime minister, who later visited injured victims at a London hospital. The identities of the attackers were not immediately disclosed. After the Manchester attack at an Ariana Grande concert, British officials were dismayed when details including a suicide bomber's name were leaked prematurely, apparently by U.S. officials. Some witnesses' accounts, though, suggested an Islamist motive. A pub-goer, Gerald Vowles, told Sky TV that attackers shouted "This is for Allah!" Shortly after May spoke, London's Metropolitan Police Service said officers from its counter-terrorism command had arrested a dozen people in the East London suburb of Barking "in connection with last night's incidents in London Bridge and the Borough Market area." It said searches of "a number of addresses" in Barking were continuing. The BBC reported that several of those arrested were women. The emergency services reported that 48 people had been taken to half a dozen hospitals across the city, some with critical injuries. Those hurt included an off-duty police officer and an on-duty member of the transport police, and a number of foreign citizens from countries that included Germany, France, Spain, New Zealand and Australia. Canada said one of its nationals was among the dead. As in past attacks in other cities, including the truck rampage last summer in the French Riviera city of Nice, establishments and ordinary people opened their doors to those left stranded by disrupted transport in an area popular with visitors and locals alike. Borough Market, with its warren of alleyways beneath and near London Bridge, is filled by day with famed specialty food stalls, and by night -- particularly on a spring evening like Saturday -- with patrons who flock to bars, clubs and eateries ranging from hole-in-the-wall dives to fine-dining establishments. May, in her televised address, said that in addition to the attacks carried out in Manchester and on and near London's Westminster Bridge on March 22, five credible attacks had been disrupted in recent months. The Westminster attack, carried out by a British convert to Islam, also made use of a car to ram people on the bridge, and a knife for a subsequent stabbing rampage on the grounds of Parliament. World leaders immediately weighed in with condolences and expressions of support. Trump was among them, but he was also harshly criticized for citing the attack as reason to revive his travel ban, now under review by the U.S. Supreme Court. Russian President Vladimir Putin and Iran's foreign ministry joined in condemning the attack. With Britain's general election only four days away, the major parties called off campaign events on Sunday as a sign of respect. The far-right UK Independence Party, known for its anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim stance, said it would press ahead with campaigning -- in order, it said, to send a message to terrorists. Polls had initially indicated a heavy advantage for May's Conservative Party over her principal Labor Party opponents heading into Sunday's vote, but that lead had narrowed dramatically in recent weeks. The attack's effect on voter sentiments remained unknown. British Home Secretary Amber Rudd said the country's terrorist threat level would remain at "severe," because no perpetrators were believed to be at large. The threat level had been raised to "critical" for some days in the wake of the Manchester attack. Echoing May's statements vowing to combat online recruitment efforts, Rudd, speaking on ITV, decried an "onslaught of jihadi propaganda" and promised a crackdown. Special correspondent Kirschbaum reported from London and staff writer King from Washington. ------ UPDATES: 11:30 a.m.: This article has been updated with Manchester concert beginning, added quotes from Khan, other details. 9:05 a.m.: This article has been updated with police saying one bystander was wounded by police gunfire. 8:40 a.m.: This article has been updated with quotes from the scene and with Canada saying one victim was Canadian. 7:35 a.m.: The story has been updated throughout with staff reporting. 5:30 a.m.: This article was updated with the 12 arrests. 3:40 a.m.: This story was updated with more quotes from May. 2:10 a.m.: Updated with the emergency cabinet session, background and quotes. This article was first published at 1:45 a.m. ___ (c)2017 the Los Angeles Times Visit the Los Angeles Times at www.latimes.com Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Related News

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *