London Police: 7 dead, 48 hurt, 12 arrested

Witnesses reported gunfire and stabbings

Armed police stand on Borough High Street after an attack in central London, Saturday, June 3, 2017. Terrorism struck at the heart of London, police said Sunday, after a vehicle veered off the road and mowed down pedestrians on London Bridge and gunshots rang out amid reports of knife attacks at nearby Borough Market. (Dominic Lipinski/PA via AP)
Armed police stand on Borough High Street after an attack in central London, Saturday, June 3, 2017. Terrorism struck at the heart of London, police said Sunday, after a vehicle veered off the road and mowed down pedestrians on London Bridge and gunshots rang out amid reports of knife attacks at nearby Borough Market. (Dominic Lipinski/PA via AP)

LONDON (AP) —  British police say they have arrested 12 people in east London over the attack in the London Bridge area.

Police said in a statement that the arrests were made Sunday morning in Barking by counterterrorism officers.

Officials said that seven people died in the Saturday night attack and roughly 48 were wounded. A British Transport Police officer and an off-duty officer were among the injured. In addition, three attackers were shot dead by police.

Police say the investigation is progressing rapidly. Prime Minister Theresa May has blamed Islamic extremists.

Terror level will not be raised

In this image made from PA Video footage, people receive medical attention in Thrale Street near London Bridge following an attack Sunday, June 4, 2017. Terrorism struck at the heart of London, police said Sunday, after a vehicle veered off the road and mowed down pedestrians on London Bridge and gunshots rang out amid reports of knife attacks at nearby Borough Market. (Federica De Caria/PA via AP)
In this image made from PA Video footage, people receive medical attention in Thrale Street near London Bridge following an attack Sunday, June 4, 2017.  (Federica De Caria/PA via AP)

Britain’s interior minister says the country’s terrorism threat level will not be raised because police believe there are no perpetrators still on the loose.

Home Secretary Amber Rudd says “we don’t believe there are additional elements” at large.

The level was raised to “critical” for several days after the March 22 concert bombing in Manchester, as police raced to track down the attacker’s possible accomplices.

It now stands at “severe,” meaning an attack is highly likely.

Three men were shot dead by police on Saturday, minutes after a van mowed into pedestrians on London Bridge and multiple people were stabbed around nearby Borough Market. Police say seven people were killed and 48 hospitalized.

Rudd told ITV television that more must be done to fight the “onslaught of jihadi propaganda that is radicalizing people online.”

Countries condemn attack

Arab Gulf countries and Turkey are condemning the attack in London that left six people dead and more than 40 others injured.

The United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman and Kuwait issued separate statements condemning such attacks and expressing their support for the British government.

The Saudi Embassy in the U.K. called on their citizens in London to exercise caution in crowded areas and follow police instructions.

In Turkey, the foreign ministry has expressed its “deep sadness.” The ministry says that as “Turkey and the Turkish people, who have been subjected to similar attacks many times, we understand and share the pain of the people of the United Kingdom.”

The ministry emphasized Turkey’s readiness to support the U.K. in its fight against extremism

Tourists, visitors stranded

A man carries a dog with a woman wearing a dressing gown after an attack in London, Sunday, June 4, 2017. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

The attack in London Bridge, a busy area filled with hotels and restaurants, has left many visitors and tourists stranded after police cordoned off a large area near the crime scene. Many spent the night in improvised sleeping spaces, from the floors of hotel bars or restaurants to chairs of conference rooms.

Sue and Jason Dunt and a second couple, Richard and Michelle Orme, were out enjoying a post-matinee dinner on London’s Embankment on Saturday. They tried to make it back to their hotel but were stymied by the police cordon thrown up around the attack site, and eventually found shelter in another hotel’s conference room.

“We were wandering the streets until three in the morning,” said Richard, a 40-year-old retail worker.

“There were people sleeping in the sofas in the reception and the restaurant. It was really good of them,” he added.

Pope Francis prays

Pope Francis has offered prayers for the victims of the London attacks during a traditional Sunday blessing following Mass that marked the Pentecost holiday.

Francis invoked prayers that the Holy Spirit “grants peace to the whole world and heal the wounds of war and of terrorism, which also last night, in London, struck innocent victims.”

The pope asked for prayers for the victims and their family members caught up in the attack in London Bridge Saturday, which left seven dead and almost 50 wounded.

Pentecost concludes the Easter season.

Earlier coverage

Terror struck at the heart of London on Saturday night as attackers killed six people in a series of vehicle and knife attacks before police shot them dead.

The assault began when a van veered off the road and barreled into pedestrians on London Bridge. Three men fled the van with large knives and attacked people at bars and restaurants in nearby Borough Market, police and witnesses said. More than 30 victims were treated at London hospitals and a number of other patients were treated for less serious injuries.

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The violence turned a summery night in an area packed with revelers into a scene of panic and chaos, with officers running through crowded streets screaming for people to flee. Lifeboats on the River Thames helped evacuate the area.

The Metropolitan Police force declared the attacks “terrorist incidents.” Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley said that while they believe all the attackers were killed, the investigation continued.

“We believe three people were involved, but we still have got some more inquiries to do to be 100 percent confident in that,” he said.

Emergency personnel on London Bridge after an incident in central London, Saturday, June 3, 2017. British police said they were dealing with “incidents” on London Bridge and nearby Borough Market in the heart of the British capital Saturday, as witnesses reported a vehicle veering off the road and hitting several pedestrians. (Dominic Lipinski/PA via AP)

As dawn broke over the capital, a large area on the south bank of the River Thames remained cordoned off. Police told people to avoid the area, leaving tourists and revelers struggling to get home.

Only hours before, bursts of gunfire echoed through the streets — likely from armed police — and at least three blasts rang out as officers performed controlled explosions. One image taken by a witness showed a man on the ground surrounded by police; he appeared to be wearing a vest with canisters attached to it.

“The suspects were wearing what looked like explosive vests,” Rowley said. “But these were later established to hoaxes.”

Gerard Vowls told The Guardian newspaper that he saw a woman being stabbed by three men at the south end of London Bridge. He said he threw chairs, glasses and bottles at the attackers in a bid to stop them.

“They kept coming to try to stab me . They were stabbing everyone. Evil, evil people,” he told the newspaper. “I want to know if this girl is still alive. I’ve been walking around for an hour and a half crying my eyes out. I don’t know what to do.”

Bartender Alex Martinez said he hid in a garbage bin for a half hour when a man stormed the restaurant where he worked, which was nearly full.

People run down Borough High Street as police are dealing with a “major incident” at London Bridge in London, Saturday, June 3, 2017. (Dominic Lipinski/PA via AP)

“I saw that man with a knife in his hand and after that a man started screaming so I knew something wrong was happening,” he said.

Medics treated the injured near the market as shocked people cried and shouted around them. Police officers yelled at people to run from the area.

Simon Thompson told Sky News that he was just outside Borough Market when he saw crowds fleeing.

“We ran for like 100 meters and then saw loads of police cars turned up and there was kind of a period of quite intense gunfire,” he said. “I hid in a restaurant basement for about an hour. … Police told us to get out and then there was more gunfire.”

Police received the first call of reports of a vehicle hitting pedestrians on London Bridge at 10:08 p.m. (2108 GMT). Rowley said the attackers were dead in eight minutes.

Multiple witnesses reported a vehicle veering off the road and hitting as many as six pedestrians.

Soon after, reports started coming in of stabbings at Borough Market, a nearby area full of bars and restaurants surrounding a popular food market.

Photographer Gabriele Sciotto said he was on his way home from a pub when he saw a man running toward him telling him to turn around and run because there was a terrorist attack. As a documentary filmmaker, though, his instincts were to keep going.

The 25-year-old said that at first, “it didn’t look too dangerous.”

The men went into Borough Market, but then turned around and ran toward the Wheatsheaf Pub after being confronted by a police officer, he said, and suddenly a lot of police came from the other direction.

The attackers “had no clue what they were doing. They were scared. The police were scared,” he said.

Police officers on Borough High Street as police are dealing with an incident on London Bridge in London, Saturday, June 3, 2017. Witnesses reported a vehicle hitting pedestrians and injured people on the ground. (Dominic Lipinski/PA via AP)

After one of the men was shot, Sciotto, captured a photo of the suspect on the ground wearing what appeared to be canisters strapped to his chest.

Police initially said officers were also responding to a third incident, in the Vauxhall neighborhood, but later said that turned out to be an unrelated stabbing.

Police tweeted a warning telling people in the area to run to safety, hide and then call police if it is safe to do so. They asked Londoners to “remain calm but be alert and vigilant.”

Prime Minister Theresa May confirmed the attack “is being treated as a potential act of terrorism” and said her thoughts were with “those who are caught up in these dreadful events.” May’s office said she would chair a meeting of the government’s COBRA emergency committee on Sunday.

As thousands of people flooded from the area of the attacks — many unable to get home with nearby subway stations shut — locals were quick to offer assistance.

The Royal Oak pub, near the area of the attacks, opened its doors to people evacuated from hotels. At least one taxi company offered free rides to people stranded in the area. Phaldip Singh, who describes himself as an entrepreneur and youth activist, tweeted that Sikh temples were open to provide food and shelter for those affected.

People run down Borough High Street as police are dealing with an incident on London Bridge in London, Saturday, June 3, 2017. Transport for London Says London Bridge closed in both directions due to police activity. (Dominic Lipinski/PA via AP)

It was the third attack to hit Britain in as many 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.

On May 22, a British suicide bomber killed 22 people and injured dozens at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester. After that attack, Britain’s official threat level from terrorism was raised to “critical,” meaning an attack may be imminent. Several days later it was lowered to “severe,” meaning an attack is highly likely.

A charity concert for victims of the Manchester attack, featuring Grande and other stars, is due to be held in the northwest English city on Sunday.

Grande, who visited victims of the Manchester attack in the hospital on Friday, found herself confronted with another terror attack.

She tweeted: “Praying for London.”