London police on Sunday announced the arrest of 12 suspects in connection with the terrorist attack at London Bridge the night before as Prime Minister Theresa May called for an overhaul of Britain’s counter-terrorism strategy.
At least seven people were killed and more than 48 injured late Saturday when three men drove a van into pedestrians on London Bridge before stabbing people at bars and restaurants in nearby Borough Market.
The three attackers, who were wearing fake explosive suicide vests, were shot dead by police within eight minutes of the first emergency calls, Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley said.
It was the third deadly attack on British soil since March, when a man drove his car into pedestrians on Westminster Bridge in central London and stabbed a policeman to death outside parliament. Some 22 people were also killed last month in a suicide bombing at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester.
On Sunday, counter-terrorism police raided several addresses in the east London suburb of Barking, the Metropolitan Police said, adding that searches were continuing there.
“It is time to say ‘enough is enough,’” May said after chairing the government’s emergency committee early Sunday.
“When it comes to taking on extremism and terrorism, things need to change.”
British authorities have disrupted five credible terrorist plots since March, May said, adding that the three latest attacks in Britain indicate a “new trend” that cannot be ignored.
“We cannot and must not pretend that things can continue as they are,” May said.
In outlining a new four-point counter-terrorism plan, May called for defeating the “evil” ideology of Islamist extremism and increased cyberspace surveillance.
She also called for boosting Britain’s anti-terrorism strategy so that police and security forces would have the necessary means against extremists, raising the prospect of longer jail terms for terror-related offences.
Some of those injured in the attack were in a critical condition, London mayor Sadiq Khan told reporters, adding that the country’s terror level remained at severe, meaning that another attack was highly likely.
The attack comes days ahead of Britain’s parliamentary elections. After May’s Conservatives and other major political parties announced they would suspend campaigning on Sunday, the prime minister said the poll would be held on Thursday as scheduled.
“Violence can never be allowed to disrupt the democratic process,” May said.