Police 'in early stages' of dealing with incident on London Bridge

London’s Metropolitan Police has said it is “in the early stages” of dealing with an incident on London Bridge in central London after reports that gunshots had been fired, writes Robert Wright.

The force made the statement as pictures on social media showed a heavy police presence on the bridge, which links the City of London financial district and Borough, to the south of the River Thames.

Eyewitnesses at the scene said they had seen officers grappling with and detaining a man.

It was unclear whether anyone had been injured in the incident or what the apparent attacker’s motive might have been.

London Bridge sealed off and police evacuating area

Police have sealed off London Bridge and approaches to it, including the Thames path and Upper Thames Street, writes Philip Georgiadis.

Two police helicopters are circling above and one police boat is in the water below the bridge. A line of London buses have stopped on the bridge.

Police are pushing people further down the Thames path away from the bridge.

Ben Middleton is on the Thames path with me. He was evacuated from a nearby building on to the path.

"People were coming off the bridge, down steps in a panic," said Mr Middleton. "Police officers were pushing people back."

We had been hearing quite a lot of what sounded like gunfire. A gap of two or three minutes in between.

The gunfire was heard at about 2.05pm local time.

Multiple gunshots were heard, reports Philip Stafford at London Bridge and police were evacuating the area.

Police advise public to avoid London Bridge area

Police officers are telling members of the public to avoid the entire London Bridge area, as far as Bank, reports Philip Georgiadis.

Officers have begun sealing off the rabbit warren of roads and pedestrian accesses to London Bridge with tape, with further police cars moving into the area. Several ambulances are near the corner of London Bridge and a fire engine and several unmarked police cars have just moved through towards the intersection of London Bridge north side and Monument station.

London Bridge links the areas of the City of London Police, which covers the City, and the Metropolitan Police, which polices the rest of Greater London, writes Robert Wright.

The City police force wrote on Twitter that they were "aware" of the "reported incident".

"Please avoid the area at this current time," they wrote.

The bridge was one of the scenes of a terror attack in June 2017, in which three Islamist extremists killed eight people, first by driving a van along the pavement on London Bridge and then by stabbing people in nearby Borough Market.

London Bridge cordoned off in chaotic scenes

The whole of London Bridge is cordoned off as ambulances and police cars, sirens wailing, race down Cannon Street towards the scene, writes Naomi Rovnick.

Officers are shouting: "Get off the road let the ambulance through". In the past two minutes, five ambulances have sped through the cordon. Nine police vans have congregated at the northern entrance to the bridge.

The police cordon disrupted City workers trying to access office and shops.

Workers at the Regus building at the top of the bridge were evacuated at around 2:20pm. “I heard no shots but I saw a group of pedestrians running,” said Louise, who works in the Regus building.

Temi Olanipekun, who works at Waitrose near London Bridge, said she was unable to get to the store to start work. "I wanted to show my face so they know I came to work," she said.

The scene from Cannon Street on the north bank of the Thames in the City of London:

London Bridge has important transport links

London Bridge is a busy transport area, for buses as well as rail and underground services, connecting the City of London with tourist areas in the capital's southeastern neighbourhood such as Borough Market, writes Philip Georgiadis.

Mustafa, the driver of the number 21 bus, was driving northbound before he was stopped by police at a junction just short of London Bridge, next to one of the entrances to Borough Market.

As soon as I approached the rail bridge, just before London Bridge, I saw a lot of police cars parked with lights flashing. A police officer asked me to secure the 21 bus. I straight away asked the passengers to depart the bus. They were told by the police to "run".

I saw a crowd of people running towards me. A woman was screaming and crying. I started running with them.

Market mayhem following London Bridge incident

Restaurants and stalls at Borough Market to the south of London's river Thames were the scene of mayhem following the incident on London Bridge.

Bertie, 22, who was in Fish! Restaurant on the outskirts of the market at around the time of today's incident, said to Philip Georgiadis:

Some girls came running into the restaurant and jumped [to] the floor. Everyone else went into panic, and bent under the tables. Wine bottles and glasses smashing.

Leila Mozun, 37, owner of supper club restaurant Caspian Kitchen, told Anjli Raval:

There were loud bangs coming from where we had been in the market.

Suddenly people started running and screaming. My Mum and I freaked out and took refuge in the Wheatsheaf pub along with loads of other people.

There was a lady from a market stall who was balling because she said she saw two women stabbed in the neck.

The market was one of the scenes of a terrorism-related attack in June 2017, when three Islamist extremists killed eight people, first by driving a van along the pavement on London Bridge and then by stabbing people in the market.

Story of London Bridge incident so far

1.58pm Police are called to a stabbing at a premises near London Bridge. Shortly after they arrive, witnesses report shots being fired at a man who has apparently been wrestled to the ground by bystanders

2.36pm British Transport Police confirm that London Bridge Station has been closed and no trains are stopping there

2.45pm London Ambulance Service declare a major incident and say they have a number of crews at the scene

2.50pm Met police say a man has been detained and a “number of people” have been injured

3.22pm Police confirm that one man has been shot by officers. They say because circumstances around the incident remain “unclear”, they are responding as if it is “terror-related”

Mayor says London stays 'resolute' and determined to be united

Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London, says the police are treating the "horrendous incident" as though it is terrorism-related and have confirmed that people have been injured in the "attack".

"I remain in close contact with the Metropolitan Police and am being kept updated with events," the mayor said in a statement.

He thanks the emergency services, which "every day put their lives on the line for us -- running towards danger in order to keep London safe".

We must -- and we will -- stay resolute in our determination to stand strong and united in the face of terror.

Here's his statement:

Cordoned-off area gradually empties out

People are beginning to disperse from the cordon on Borough High Street, on the southern side of the bridge, reports Philip Georgiadis. The area is close to Queen's Head Yard, home to a well-known pub.

Some people who had been kept in their offices or restaurants are still being brought out of the sealed-off area by police.

Police patrol area on north bank of Thames near City

Mounted police officers are patrolling the Cannon Street entrance to London Bridge on the northern bank of the Thames river near the City, writes Naomi Rovnick.

The area remains shut off. Two more police vans have arrived and others have left in what appears to be a change in shift for the officers.

Workers on the north side of London Bridge who were initially not allowed to leave their office buildings are being evacuated.

A number of people streamed down Cannon Street. Police shouted for them to go home, or if they were a witness, to go to the Salvation Army.

New Scotland Yard declares 'terrorist' incident as suspect shot dead

The Metropolitan Police’s head of counter-terror policing confirmed City of London officers had shot dead the suspect involved in Friday’s incident on London Bridge and that the force was now treating the incident as terrorism, writes Robert Wright in London.

"I am now in a position to declare this a terrorist-related incident," said Neil Basu, an assistant commissioner of the force, reading a statement outside New Scotland Yard.

"I can confirm that this suspect died at the scene," he read, while a "number of other people" were injured in the incident.

The force was continuing to sweep the area around London Bridge for explosive devices, Mr Basu said. However, it believed that a device found strapped to the suspect’s body was a hoax, he said.

I can confirm that we believe that a device that was strapped to the body of the suspect was a hoax.

Officers from the small City of London Police, which covers the capital's financial district, had shot the attacker, Mr Basu said.

“Public safety is absolutely our top priority,” Mr Basu said. “We will be adding police patrols in both the city and across London.”

White House: Trump 'monitoring' London Bridge incident

US president Donald Trump has been briefed on the situation in London and is monitoring it, the White House has said in a statement.

Here it is in full:

President Trump has been briefed on this morning’s attack at the London Bridge and is monitoring the situation. The United States strongly condemns all horrific acts of violence on innocent people, and we pledge our full support to our Ally, the United Kingdom.

Police continue to interview witnesses

Naomi Rovnick reports:

More witnesses are being taken in for debriefing, arriving in unmarked cars. They include restaurant staff from outlets near the scene of the incident.

They are arriving at the police-allocated building in the City of London.

The interviews of eyewitnesses are very wide ranging, with around 30 people having been taken into the debrief centre so far.

Evening commute interrupted for many

London Bridge station, a major travel hub for people commuting home from central London to the suburbs, remains closed, according to National Rail's website.

Kaye Wiggins, the FT's private capital correspondent, snapped the photos above and below showing the cancellations and the street in front of London Bridge Station, which would typically be packed at this hour.

Eyewitness accounts of the aftermath

Two eyewitnesses have told me what they saw in the chaotic minutes after the incident on London Bridge around 2pm this afternoon. We spoke on Borough High Street, where police had cleared a large crowd away from the scene of the incident.

Noel Govett was in his office on the north side of the bridge, and said he heard a “loud banging”.

I had to cross the bridge to get to a hospital appointment, and as I got onto the bridge there were two buses parked, with police swarming. Paramedics were carrying stretchers with people on them away.”

Stuart Field had been in a coffee shop called Roasting Shop Coffee, which is on the south side of the Thames with a view across London Bridge.

People ran into the coffee shop. We saw three or four cars and a bus stopped in the north bound lane, almost like there been an accident.

People peeled out and were running. People were running for their lives. The store owners got us into the basement.

Police to mount extra patrols following incident

The Metropolitan Police and British Transport Police forces have told people to expect extra patrols this weekend, following the incident on London Bridge which is being treated as terrorism.

The Met said:

"Public safety is our top priority and we will be enhancing police patrols in the City and across London."

The British Transport Police said:

You'll see more officers, including firearms teams, on duty throughout the Capital this weekend. This follows the London Bridge terror incident. Please don't be alarmed by their presence, they are there to keep you safe.

Breaking news

Boris Johnson vows to 'hunt down' anyone involved

The UK prime minister has said anyone involved in Friday's terror incident would be "hunted down and will be brought to justice".

Boris Johnson said it appeared the situation was "contained" with the killing of a man suspected in the stabbing near London Bridge in central London. However, the full extent of what happened and why was "not yet entirely clear."

An update of the latest developments

Here is what we know so far following the incident in central London:

• Police said they were called to a stabbing “at a premises near to London Bridge” at around 2pm.

• Officers from the City of London Police shot dead a suspect at the scene.

• Police are treating the incident as terrorism.

• There were chaotic scenes on both sides of London Bridge as people ran from the incident.

• Noel Gorvett, an eyewitness, told the FT he saw police “swarm” onto London Bridge and paramedics carry people away on stretchers.

• Ben Middleton was evacuated from Fishmongers Hall on to the Thames path. He told the FT: "People were coming off the bridge, down the steps in a panic. Police officers were pushing people back. We had been hearing quite a lot of what sounded like gunfire.”

• Boris Johnson has said the situation is “contained” and that anyone involved would be "hunted down and will be brought to justice".

Labour suspends campaign in London after attack

The Labour party has suspended its campaigning in London for the evening following the terror attack earlier on Friday.

Jeremy Corbyn, Labour leader, said, "My heart goes out to the victims of this appalling attack."

He said the campaign would be suspended as "a mark of respect for those who suffered in this attack."

Mr Corbyn added:

We must remain united across all our communities, and we cannot let our democratic process be derailed by acts of terror.

Earlier on Friday, Boris Johnson, Tory prime minister, said:

I've obviously stopped my campaigning for this evening, but we will be reviewing the matter in the course of the next few hours.

How police responded to the attack

Sky News was filming a piece with the Metropolitan Police's Territorial Support Group this afternoon when the team was diverted to the scene of the terrorist attack.

The Met describes the TSG as "London's first response unit" and says it provides "an immediate presence at critical incidents".

As the officers sped through traffic towards London Bridge, one described what he had heard on the police radio:

"We have just got a terrorist attack, London Bridge. Male with a knife. Possible IED (improvised explosive device). He has been shot ... we are just en-route and further information will come to light as we head up there."

Three injured in Hague stabbing

The FT's Mehreen Khan reports:

Three people have been injured in a stabbing incident in a busy shooing steer in the The Hague, Netherlands. Local police said the incident took place on a busy shopping street in the Dutch municipal capital on Black Friday.

Investigators are searching for a man aged between 45 and 50, wearing a black jacket, a scarf and a grey jogging suit.

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