(Adds Islamic State claim of responsibility)
* Attackers drive van into pedestrians, stab others
* Police fire 50 bullets, kill attackers
* PM May says attack carried out by Islamist militants
* National election to go ahead on Thursday
* Islamic State militants claim responsibility
* Graphic on attack: tmsnrt.rs/2roO1RF
By Guy Faulconbridge and Estelle Shirbon
LONDON, June 4 Prime Minister Theresa May said
Britain must be tougher in stamping out Islamist extremism
after attackers killed at least seven people by ramming a van
into pedestrians on London Bridge and stabbing revellers in
After the third militant attack in Britain in less than
three months, May said Thursday's national election would go
ahead. But she proposed regulating cyberspace and said Britain
had been far too tolerant of extremism.
"It is time to say enough is enough," the Conservative
leader said outside her Downing Street office, where British
flags flew at half-staff.
"We cannot and must not pretend that things can continue as
they are," May said, adding that Britain was under attack from a
new breed of crude copycat militants.
Islamic State, which is losing territory in Syria and Iraq
to an offensive backed by a U.S.-led coalition, said its
militants were responsible for the attack, the group's media
agency Amaq said in a statement monitored in Cairo.
One French national and one Canadian were among those
killed. At least 48 people were injured in the attack. Australia
said one of its citizens was among the injured.
Police shot dead the three male assailants in the Borough
Market area near London Bridge within eight minutes of receiving
the first emergency call shortly after 10 p.m. (2100 GMT).
Mark Rowley, head of counter-terrorism police, said eight
officers had fired about 50 bullets to stop the attackers, who
appeared to be suicide bombers because they were wearing what
turned out to be fake suicide vests.
"The situation these officers were confronted with was
critical: a matter of life and death," Rowley said. "I am
humbled by the bravery of an officer who will rush towards a
potential suicide bomber thinking only of protecting others."
A member of the public received non-critical gunshot wounds.
Police did not release the names of the attackers.
London police arrested 12 people in the Barking district of
east London in connection with the attack and raids were
continuing there, the force said. A Reuters photographer saw
another raid take place in nearby East Ham.
Less than two weeks ago, a suicide bomber killed 22 children
and adults at a concert by U.S. singer Ariana Grande in
Manchester in northern England. In March, in a attack similar to
Saturday's, five people died after a man drove into pedestrians
on Westminster Bridge in central London and stabbed a policeman.
May said the series of attacks were not connected in terms
of planning and execution, but were inspired by what she called
a "single, evil ideology of Islamist extremism" that represented
a perversion of Islam and of the truth.
She said this ideology had to be confronted both abroad and
at home, adding that the internet and big internet companies
provided the space for such extremism to breed.
Facebook said it wanted to make its social media
platform a "hostile environment" for terrorists. Twitter also
said it was working to tackle the spread of militant propaganda.
After the Manchester attack, Britain raised its threat level
to "critical" - meaning an attack is expected imminently - but
downgraded it back to "severe", which means an attack is highly
likely, on May 27.
Witnesses described harrowing scenes as the attackers' white
van veered on and off the bridge sidewalk, hitting people along
the way, and the three men then ran into an area packed with
bars and restaurants, stabbing people indiscriminately.
Accounts emerged of people trying to barricade themselves in
a pub while others tried throwing tables and other objects to
fend off the attackers.
One eyewitness said the attackers screamed "this is for
Allah" as they stabbed people.
England's health authority said on Sunday afternoon that 36
of those injured remained in hospital, of whom 21 were in a
May made a private visit to staff and patients at King's
College Hospital, where some of the injured were being treated,
a spokeswoman said.
The government announced that a nationwide minute of silence
would be held at 1000 GMT on Tuesday to pay respect to the
victims of the attack and flags would remain at half-mast on
government buildings until Tuesday evening.
A Reuters photographer saw four women being removed from an
apartment block in Barking, shielding their faces as they
stepped into police vans.
Islamic State militants had sent out a call on instant
messaging service Telegram early on Saturday urging its
followers to carry out attacks with trucks, knives and guns
against "Crusaders" during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
Islamist militants have carried out scores of deadly attacks
in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia and the United States
over the past two years.
"We believe we are experiencing a new trend in the threat we
face as terrorism breeds terrorism," May said.
"Perpetrators are inspired to attack not only on the basis
of carefully constructed plots ... and not even as lone
attackers radicalised online, but by copying one another and
often using the crudest of means of attack."
"TOLERANCE OF EXTREMISM"
May, who served as Britain's interior minister from 2010 to
2016, said there was too much tolerance of extremism in Britain.
"While we have made significant progress in recent years,
there is - to be frank - far too much tolerance of extremism in
our country," she said, urging Britons to be more robust in
stamping it out in the public sector and in wider society.
Opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said Britain needed
to have difficult conversations with Saudi Arabia and other Gulf
states about the funding of Islamist extremism.
U.S. President Donald Trump, taking to Twitter on Sunday,
urged the world to stop being "politically correct" in order to
ensure public security against terrorism.
Most of the main political parties suspended election
campaigning on Sunday, but May said this would resume on Monday.
The anti-European Union UK Independence Party said it would not
suspend its campaign because disrupting democracy was what the
London Bridge is a transport hub and nearby Borough Market
is a fashionable warren of alleyways leavened with bars and
restaurants that is always bustling on a Saturday night.
The area remained cordoned off and patrolled by armed police
and counter-terrorism officers on Sunday, with train stations
closed. Forensic investigators could be seen working on the
bridge, where buses and taxis stood abandoned.
At several points outside the cordon, people laid flowers
and messages of grief and solidarity.
Ariana Grande and other music stars were giving a benefit
concert at Manchester's Old Trafford cricket ground on Sunday
evening to raise funds for victims of the concert bombing and
"Today's One Love Manchester benefit concert will not only
continue, but will do so with greater purpose," Grande's
manager, Scooter Braun, said on Twitter after the London attack.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan said the official threat level in
Britain remained at severe, meaning a militant attack is highly
likely. It had been raised to critical after the Manchester
attack, then lowered again days later.
"One of the things we can do is show that we aren't going to
be cowed is by voting on Thursday and making sure that we
understand the importance of our democracy, our civil liberties
and our human rights," Khan said.
In tweets, Trump offered help to Britain but also levelled
apparent criticism of Khan for saying there was no need to be
alarmed. Khan had earlier said Londoners would see an increased
police presence on the streets of the city and people should not
be alarmed by that.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel
Macron and Russian President Vladimir Putin were among those who
sent messages of condolence and made statements of solidarity.
The Manchester bombing on May 22 was the deadliest attack in
Britain since July 2005, when four British Muslim suicide
bombers killed 52 people in coordinated assaults on London's
(Additional reporting by UK bureau, Dylan Martinez, Hannah
McKay, William Schomberg, Elisabeth O'Leary, William James, Andy
Bruce and Alistair Smout in London, Marine Pennetier in Paris,
Steve Scherer in Rome, Polina Devitt in Moscow, Paul Carrel in
Berlin, David Morgan in Washington and Mostafa Hashem in Cairo;
writing by Estelle Shirbon, Pravin Char and Guy Faulconbridge;
editing by Ralph Boulton and Angus MacSwan)