U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May on Monday backed the "shoot to kill" policy that stopped the London Bridge attackers Saturday night, saying she would not allow terrorism to defeat the U.K.
"I absolutely support 'shoot to kill' and I think what we saw on our streets on Saturday is how important that was," she said at a speech in Central London. "Those police officers, within eight minutes, had shot three attackers and killed them and that saved countless lives."
"Shoot to kill" is a departure for London's armed police, which had been operating under a "shoot to incapacitate" order. The policy has been controversial and May's Labour opponent in the coming elections, Jeremy Corbyn, opposed it in 2015. "You end up with a war in the streets... not a good thing," he said at the time.
The armed responding officers fired more than 50 rounds at the three attackers; one bystander was struck by a bullet but is expected to recover.
As with previous assaults on London and Manchester, the Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for the latest U.K. attack. "A detachment of Islamic State fighters executed yesterday's London attack," read a message on the ISIS-run Amaq news site late Sunday night.
Here's what we know so far:
- Attackers manning a white rental van hit pedestrians on London Bridge at 10 p.m. local time Saturday night, before driving to nearby Borough Market, where three armed attackers then stabbed people in local pubs and restaurants.
- Armed police arrived and shot the attackers dead within eight minutes of the first emergency call. As well as carrying knives, the attackers wore fake suicide vests, designed to spread more fear.
- Seven people are confirmed dead. Canadian Chrissy Archibald was the first victim to be named. "We grieve the loss of our beautiful, loving daughter and sister. She had room in her heart for everyone and believed strongly that every person was to be valued and respected," her family said in a statement.
- 48 people have been injured, with 21 of them in a critical condition, according to the London ambulance service.
- The U.K. authorities have confirmed they know the identities of the three men involved in the attack. Eleven people remain in custody as police continue to search multiple residences in east London.
- One of the attackers was reportedly carrying an Irish identity card when he was shot dead, and unconfirmed reports suggest he may have appeared in a TV program about extremists in 2016.
- One of the suspects was reported to police for extremist views by a neighbor in 2015. Speaking to the Telegraph, Erica Gasparri said that she went to the authorities after her son came home and told her he wanted to be a Muslim. "He was trying to radicalize the children: He would go down to the park and talk to them about Islam," she explained, adding that the police took her information seriously.
- Speaking at a press conference at 11:30 a.m. local time Monday, the prime minister defended her record on police funding, which has come under fire in recent days. "The commissioner of the Metropolitan Police has said that the Met is well-resourced, and they are, and that they have very powerful counterterrorism capabilities and they do," May said. As home secretary, May was in charge of police budgets and presided over massive cuts to the police force, getting rid of 20,000 serving officers.
- Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn on Monday called on the prime minister to resign over police cuts.
Topics: london terror attack