London attackers are ‘copycats’ linked by ‘evil ideology’, says British PM Theresa May, as 12 people arrested
The assault began Saturday night when a van veered off the road and drove into pedestrians on busy London Bridge – it left seven people dead and at least 48 people injured
British police arrested 12 people on Sunday in connection with the attacks in London that left seven people dead, after raiding several addresses in Barking, a suburb to the east of the capital.
“The investigation into last night’s horrific attack in London is progressing rapidly as the Metropolitan Police Service continue to piece together exactly what occurred,” the force said in a statement.
It added that “a number of addresses” in Barking were still being searched.
Earlier, British Prime Minister Theresa May called for tougher measures to contain Islamic extremism in Britain in the wake of the attack.
The assault began Saturday night when a van veered off the road and drove into pedestrians on busy London Bridge. Three men believed to be Muslims fled the van with large knives and attacked people at bars and restaurants in nearby Borough Market, police and witnesses said. The attack unfolded quickly, and police said officers had shot and killed the three attackers within eight minutes.
Emergency officials said 48 people were treated at London hospitals and a number of others suffered less serious injuries.
Britain was already on edge after a suicide bombing two weeks ago at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, in northwest England, that killed 22 people and injured dozens of others. Grande and other stars are scheduled to perform a benefit concert for victims Sunday night.
Islamic State claimed responsibility for the Manchester bombing, but there has not yet been a claim of responsibility for the London attack.
May, who faces a general election on Thursday, said the recent attacks are not directly connected but that “terrorism breeds terrorism” and attackers copy one another. She also said five credible plots have recently been disrupted.
“They are bound together by the single evil ideology of Islamist extremism that preaches hatred, sows division, and promotes sectarianism,” she said. “It is an ideology that claims our Western values and freedom, democracy and human rights are incompatible with the religion of Islam.”
She called for international agreements to regulate cyberspace to help stop the spread of extremism and said Britain needs to become more robust at identifying and stamping it out.
“That will require some difficult, and often embarrassing, conversations,” she said.
May said the men attacked “innocent and unarmed civilians” in Borough Market with blades and knives. She said they were wearing what appeared to be explosive vests, but police determined those were only meant to sow panic and fear.
May’s Conservative Party had been expected to win by a wide margin but recent polls have showed the race tightening. Major parties temporarily suspended national campaigning on Sunday.
Saturday night’s attack was the third by Muslim extremists in Britain in three months.
In March, a British convert to Islam ran down people with a vehicle on Westminster Bridge, killing four, then stabbed a policeman to death outside Parliament.
Then came the May 22 Manchester concert bombing.