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Arrests made in wake of London terror attack

05 June 2017

LONDON METROPOLITAN Police has made 12 arrests following a terrorist attack in London that has left seven people dead and 48 injured.

On 3 June at 9:58pm, a van hit pedestrians while driving at speed across London Bridge. The vehicle then proceeded to Borough Market where three men got out with long knives and began stabbing people. Armed police were on the scene within eight minutes and fired 50 bullets, killing all three perpetrators and causing a minor injury to a member of the public. Of the 48 injured victims, 21 are said to be in a critical condition.

Police moved quickly to raid a flat belonging to one of the three attackers in Barking and subsequently made 12 arrests across two addresses in the area. All of the arrested have now been released without charge. London Metropolitan Police assistant commissioner Mark Rowley provided an update on the investigation, he said: “The investigation is progressing at pace, and officers from the Met’s Counter Terrorism Command, the National Counter Terrorism Policing network are working relentlessly with UK intelligence partners to piece together exactly what occurred. We have already made significant progress, but of course, there remains much more to do.

“We are making significant progress in identifying the three attackers, and that there were no other suspects at the scene, when the attack was carried out. Work is ongoing to understand more about them, their connections and whether they were assisted or supported by anyone else. As I think you are aware there are searches ongoing in east London, and 12 arrests have been made. There is of course more to do, and we will work relentlessly to establish the facts.”

Prime Minister Theresa May confirmed that the attack is not linked to the recent Manchester Arena bombing and has now stressed that the United Kingdom needs to change its approach to tackling terrorism. She said: “Our country fell victim to a brutal terrorist attack once again. On behalf of the people of London, and on behalf of the whole country, I want to thank and pay tribute to the professionalism and bravery of the police and the emergency services – and the courage of members of the public who defended themselves and others from the attackers. And our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and with their friends, families and loved ones.

“We cannot and must not pretend that things can continue as they are. Things need to change, and they need to change in four important ways. First, 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. 

“Defeating this ideology is one of the great challenges of our time. But it cannot be defeated through military intervention alone. It will not be defeated through the maintenance of a permanent, defensive counter-terrorism operation, however skillful its leaders and practitioners. It will only be defeated when we turn people’s minds away from this violence – and make them understand that our values.

“Second, we cannot allow this ideology the safe space it needs to breed. Yet that is precisely what the internet – and the big companies that provide internet-based services – provide. We need to work with allied, democratic governments to reach international agreements that regulate cyberspace to prevent the spread of extremism and terrorist planning. 

“Third, while we need to deprive the extremists of their safe spaces online, we must not forget about the safe spaces that continue to exist in the real world. Yes, that means taking military action to destroy ISIS in Iraq and Syria. But it also means taking action here at home. 

“Fourth, we have a robust counter-terrorism strategy that has proved successful over many years. But as the nature of the threat we face becomes more complex, more fragmented, more hidden, especially online, the strategy needs to keep up. So, in light of what we are learning about the changing threat, we need to review Britain’s counter-terrorism strategy to make sure the police and security services have all the powers they need.

“And if we need to increase the length of custodial sentences for terrorism-related offences, even apparently less serious offences, that is what we will do.”