British police have identified the knife-wielding man who attacked pedestrians Friday on London Bridge, saying he had previously been convicted of terror-related offenses.
The attacker, Usman Khan, 28, was convicted in 2012, police said. He was released on probation in December 2018.
Police Commissioner Cressida Dick confirmed that the two stabbing victims had died, in addition to Usman, whom police confronted and killed on the iconic bridge. The commissioner said three other people were wounded in the incident. According to the Associated Press, one of the wounded was in critical but stable condition, one was stable and the third had less serious injuries.
Police said Khan was wearing a fake suicide device when he began the knife attack on pedestrians at the north end of the bridge.
A number of civilians apparently fought back, tackling the man and wresting the knife away from him. Amateur video posted on Twitter showed police converging on the struggle and an individual being dragged off by police. Police then shot the man dead at close range.
Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu of London’s Metropolitan Police told reporters the incident had been deemed a terrorist attack.
British media, citing unnamed government sources, said Khan had links to Islamic extremist groups. Officials would not confirm the information. Prime Minister Boris Johnson, however, said: "It is a mistake to allow serious and violent criminals to come out of prison early, and it is very important that we get out of that habit."
He tweeted earlier that anyone responsible for the attack would be “hunted down and will be brought to justice.”
London Mayor Sadiq Khan condemned the incident. Speaking outside Scotland Yard, Khan appealed to Londoners to remain united in the face of terrorism.
“Those who seek to attack us and divide us will never succeed,” he said.
He also praised the civilians who confronted the suspect, as well as the first responders who took over, noting “they literally ran towards danger” and calling them “the very best of our humanity.”
Pedestrians were cleared from the bridge and a wide area was cordoned off around the scene.
An eyewitness told the Financial Times he saw police “swarm” the bridge and paramedics carry people off the bridge on stretchers.
Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn tweeted support for those affected by the attack and suspended his party’s political campaigning for the evening, ahead of a December 12 election.
In the U.S., the White House issued a statement saying President Donald Trump had been briefed on the incident. The statement strongly condemned all acts of violence on innocent people and pledged support for the United Kingdom.
Khan had been convicted as part of a group that denied plotting to target major sites including Parliament and the U.S. Embassy, the AP reported. Khan admitted to a lesser charge of engaging in conduct for the preparation of acts of terrorism. He was attending a program that works to educate prisoners when he launched Friday's attack just yards from the site of a deadly 2017 van and knife rampage.
Eight people died and 48 were injured in that attack when the driver of a van plowed into pedestrians on the bridge before crashing into the south bank of the Thames River. Three occupants exited the van and began stabbing people in nearby restaurants and pubs before being killed by police. They, too, were found to be wearing fake explosive vests.
Members of the public were also reported to have assisted in the apprehension of those attackers.