In just a few minutes, a deadly rampage swept through a busy Saturday night in central London, killing seven, and injuring nearly 50 others. Witnesses described in detail how the deadly tragedy unfolded in the streets of the British capital.
Eyewitnesses said that the three assailants were driving over London Bridge in a nondescript Hertz rental van, when they accelerated to “about 50mph,” according to Holly Jones, a BBC journalist, caught in the attack.
“We thought it was a car accident but as we got closer we could see a lot of blood and bodies. There was a pregnant woman on the right who was severely injured and on the left there was a man being resuscitated, but he started breathing. We don’t know whether the woman survived,” one witness told the Guardian.
One more witness identified as Eric Siguenza told the BBC that three men “jumped out of the van and that’s when they started attacking people on the road.”
“As they headed down the stairs, as they were running towards the people, they were shouting, ‘This is for Allah,’” he said.
They were just yards from Borough Market, a popular nightspot. It was just after 10pm, minutes after the Champions League Final wrapped up in Cardiff, and the streets were full of revelers.
The violence occurred in full view of hundreds of onlookers.
“I saw a man in red with quite a large blade, I don’t know the measurement, I guess maybe 10 inches. He was stabbing a man… he stabbed him about three times fairly calmly,” an eyewitness, who identified himself as Ben, told The Telegraph.“It looked like the man had maybe been trying to intervene but there wasn’t much that he could do, he was being stabbed quite coldly and he slumped to the ground.”
“They stabbed this girl maybe 10 times, 15 times. She was going, ‘Help me, help me,’” an eyewitness named Gerard told the BBC, saying that he lobbed a bottle at the assailants to try to scare them off.
Many sought refuge in the cafes in the market square. But safety was temporary, as the attackers went inside the cafes, stabbing indiscriminately.
“He stabbed her in the neck,” eyewitness Elsbeth Smedley told CNN, recounting an attack on a waitress. “He stabbed another man in the back, and then he ran out of the restaurant.”
Police said that they received the first call about the attack at 10:08pm. An armed unit was dispatched immediately. Eyewitnesses described a cacophony of gunfire. Within eight minutes, the three stabbers were dead. The canisters the terrorists had strapped to their bodies were crude fakes.
The manager of a pub in the vicinity of the attack told RT that armed police stormed into the building and “basically asked us to leave.” A woman in the pub said the experience was “terrifying,” and that she could see a person lying on the ground from the window.
Another witness, a young man, told RT that he was on the bridge at the time the carnage took place, and saw a man being arrested by police just next to him. He was, however, unable to describe the man, as his face was covered with a hood.
“I did not really see. I tried to snap it but I just had been told to run,” he said.
Shortly after the attack, police issued a ‘Run, Hide, Tell’ warning for civilians, designed as a response to mass attacks in public places.
The local underground station was shut, hospitals were placed on shutdown, and the entire district cordoned off. People were forced to walk with hands on their heads, police stopped and searched suspicious groups, and tourists wandered around, unable to return to their hotels.