British police were seen in a dramatic video struggling with and then shooting a man on the London Bridge on Friday shortly after reports of a stabbing in the area, an incident that sent law enforcement teeming to the key thoroughfare where auto and pedestrian traffic was brought to a standstill amid the “major incident.”
Law enforcement officials said as a precaution the incident was being treated as terror-related. They also confirmed a suspect was shot and killed.
Five people were injured, although it was unclear what the injuries were. Scotland Yard earlier said first responders were called to “a stabbing at premises near to London Bridge” just before 2 p.m. local time.
Initial reports suggested the suspect was wearing a suicide vest and it’s now believed to be a hoax suicide vest, Commissioner Neil Basu said in a press conference outside Scotland Yard.
The area remains sealed for safety reasons due to the possible threat.
“Due to reports that the suspect may have had an explosive device, specialist offices also attended the scene and wide cordons are in place to ensure there remains no further danger to the public,” he said. “However, I can confirm at this time, we believe a device that was strapped to the body of the suspect is a hoax explosive device. Officers continue to carry out meticulous searches in the area to ensure there is no outstanding threat to the public.”
The lockdown and fears of an explosive device caused people to run away or hide where they could in fear.
“I was shopping in the area when they started to cordon it off. There was panic in the market and people started running. I saw two people fall over,” Jo from East London told the Guardian. “I was walking down a side street trying to leave the area when all of a sudden people started running. The police then told people to get inside, so we sheltered in Le Pain Quotidien. They locked the doors and moved people away from the glass. The police has just let us leave.”
The news comes after witnesses reported hearing gunshots and Sky News reported police shot the apparent attacker.
Officials said “a man has been detained by police” but it was unclear if that was the same person who officers were seen subduing in the video.
“Just a few minutes ago I was walking across London Bridge on the south bank to the north bank of the bridge,” BBC reporter John McManus said. “There appeared to be a fight going on on the other side of the bridge, with several men attacking one man.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson was reportedly en route to Downing Street.
“I’m being kept updated on the incident at London Bridge and want to thank the police and all emergency services for their immediate response,” Johnson said in a statement.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn thanked police and emergency services for their response during the crisis.
“Shocking reports from London Bridge. My thoughts are with those caught up in the incident. Thank you to the police and emergency services who are responding,” he said.
British Transport Police say that underground trains will not be stopping at London Bridge Underground station. The mainland station is also closed.
A motive in the incident has not been confirmed by police, however, the London Bridge area was the scene of a terrorist melee on June 3, 2017. Islamic terrorists used a dual vehicle ramming and stabbing attack. Eight civilians died and four police officers were injured in the assault. All three terrorists were also killed.
It also comes as the national terrorist level was lowered from “severe” to “substantial” this month, according to the Guardian.
In 2017, following a New York City explosion that injured 29, London Mayor Sadiq Khan announced that terror attacks are “part and parcel of life in a big city.”
“It is a reality I’m afraid that London, New York, other major cities around the world have got to be prepared for these sorts of things,” he added.
Khan also released a statement on Friday regarding the London Bridge incident.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.