Theresa May has warned in the aftermath of the London atrocity of how “terrorism breeds terrorism” with violent extremists carrying out copycat attacks “often using the crudest means” to maim and murder.
The rise of such attacks, with Islamists emulating previous acts of terror, is a matter of deep concern, say security sources, with difficulties in uncovering plots by small groups who may not have links with established jihadi networks, and thus may have escaped scrutiny.
The weapons used in the London attack, killing seven people and injuring 48 others – 21 critically – were knives and a hired van, echoing the Westminster attacker Khalid Masood who killed five people using knives and a hired car; Anas Amri who killed 12 people in Berlin using a hired truck; and Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel who killed 86 in Nice using a hired truck.
Meanwhile, on a day of dramatic developments:
- Isis claimed responsibility for the attacks
- First two of seven fatalities identified as one Canadian citizen, Christine Archibald, and one French citizen
- Theresa May calls for crackdown on “safe spaces for extremists” online
- Jeremy Corbyn tells Theresa May 'you cannot protect public on the cheap'
- Police say member of the public shot in crossfire as officers fired 50 bullets
The three London attackers wore fake suicide vests. It remains unclear why this was done; one theory is that they may have believed that police, wary of the devices being detonated, would keep their distance. In the event eight armed officers shot them dead using 50 rounds.
Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley, of Scotland Yard, said “I’m not surprised, with what they must have feared were three suicide bombers, that the firearms officers fired an unprecedented number of rounds to be completely confident they had neutralised the threat that those men posed.” A member of the public was also shot accidentally, but is expected to make a full recovery.