Van hits pedestrians on London Bridge

A van has mowed into pedestrians on London Bridge, with others stabbed in what police are calling terrorist attacks - two of several the UK has endured in recent times.

Six innocent people lost thier lives, police said just before 3pm (NZ time). Three suspects were shot dead by police only eight minutes after the first call was made.

It's believed no one involved in the attacks got away.

Earlier, one suspect was photographed on the ground wearing canisters strapped to his body - police later confirmed they were all wearing fake suicide vests.

Suspect lying on the ground
Suspect lying on the ground Photo credit: Supplied

Key facts:

  • The van, travelling about 80km/h, hit pedestrians on London Bridge at 10:08pm (local time; 9:08am NZ time).
  • Six people were killed in the attacks, and three suspects have been shot dead.
  • Thirty people are injured.
  • One of the alleged attackers was photographed wearing canisters strapped to his body, lying on the ground after being shot. The canisters turned out to be a ruse - police later confirming the suicide vests were fake.
  • Witnesses say several people were stabbed after men jumped out of the van with knives. One of the men stabbed was a transport police officer. His injuries are not life-threatening.
  • No Kiwis are believed to have been caught up in the attack.
  • Additional police will be taking to the streets of London in the coming days.
  • An arrest has been made in Manchester in relation to the Ariana Grande concert bombing. It's not clear if this latest incident is linked to that attack.
  • Facebook has activated its 'safety check' feature so locals can let friends know they're safe.

Met Police say witnesses described a van "in collision" with pedestrians on the bridge, closely followed by reports of stabbings in nearby Borough Market.

Police attend to an incident on London Bridge in London
Police attend to an incident on London Bridge. Photo credit: Reuters

Witnesses say the vehicle, driven by a man, was travelling about 80km/h when it hit pedestrians just after 10pm (local time).

One person told radio news station LBC three men jumped out of the van, armed with knives. 

"A van came from London Bridge itself, went between the traffic light system and rammed it towards the steps. It knocked loads of people down," the taxi driver said.

"Then three men got out with long blades, 12 inches long and went randomly along Borough High Street stabbing people at random."

People leave the area with their hands up after an incident near London Bridge.
People leave the area with their hands up after an incident near London Bridge. Photo credit: Reuters

Eyewitnesses told local media several people are lying on the ground, having been stabbed.

New Zealanders in London react

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said New Zealanders should check Safe Travel for updates and information on how to stay safe in the UK.

It has received no reports of any Kiwis being caught up in the latest attack.

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Former Three journalist Laura Frykberg, who now reports for Al Jazeera, was in nearby building The Shard when it happened.

"It's normally an incredibly touristy, busy area filled with people out and about, but currently I can see no one except officers and ambulances," she told RadioLIVE.

Marcelle Brown, a Tauranga local who now lives in London, has been staying inside while the drama unfolds around her.

"I haven't been out in the public since it happened. I've just been watching the news with my flatmate for like, two hours watching all the updates," she told Newshub.

"Honestly, I think it is made me somewhat nervous about going to heavily populated areas. I have a trip to a big mall in London planned tomorrow and it does make me a little nervous. My flatmate, who is English, said she will have trouble sleeping tonight. The uncertainty of it all is very scary - like, when and where is going to be next?"

Kiwi Joe Bunting, who lives about 10 minutes' walk from London Bridge, said the first indication they had something was happening was "an endless array of sirens".

"Since then it's constant sirens. Currently outside there's hundreds of people milling around the Elephant and Castle station, people clearly from the affected area struggling to get to where they need to be.

"A lot of anger and fear on the streets as I walk through the crowds."

Former Prime Minister Helen Clark called the attacks "murderous behaviour" in a post on Twitter.

Witnesses describe panic

"Within my line of sight, there were five or six people on the ground that were not moving," Mark Roberts told CNN. "It looked to me that the van was aiming at the people."

The van only stopped when it hit a bus stop.

"We had to run, there was loads of shooting," a witness told The Sun, which also reported seeing a shirtless man led away in handcuffs.

Bystanders rushed into pubs, some at the police's urging.

"Lots of people came running inside, we didn't really know what was going on," Will Orton told BBC.

"We thought maybe there was a fight or something outside. And then there were almost hundreds of people coming inside."

Politicians respond

The Mayor of London has issued a response to the attack, saying "there is no justification whatsoever for such barbaric acts".

"My thoughts are with everyone affected, and I'd like to thank the brave men and women of our emergency services who were first on the scene and will be working throughout the night," Mayor Sadiq Khan said in a statement.

"We don't yet know the full details, but this was a deliberate and cowardly attack on innocent Londoners and visitors to our city enjoying their Saturday night. I condemn it in the strongest possible terms. There is no justification whatsoever for such barbaric acts."

UK Prime Minister Theresa May and US President Donald Trump have both been briefed on the incident.

Mr Trump's first public statement on the attack was to retweet a Drudge Report tweet about it, then say the US needs "to be smart, vigilant and tough. We need the courts to give us back our rights. We need the Travel Ban as an extra level of safety!"

Mr Trump later tweeted the US would do what it could to help the UK.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn called the incidents "brutal and shocking", and thanked emergency services. 

More incidents

Police also attended an incident at Vauxhall, south of the bridge. It was later declared unrelated to the London Bridge attack.

And in Manchester, where an attack killed 22 people at an Ariana Grande gig two weeks ago, police have made an arrest near the arena where her benefit concert is scheduled to take place on Sunday night (local time).

Grande herself posted a short message on Twitter about the latest tragedy.

A French woman told the BBC police were also scouring the Thames for potential victims.

"They were right near the edge of the bridge. It looks potentially they could have been thrown over."

The city's Tube system was evacuated as a precaution, and bus routes diverted.

The bridge has been closed.

London Bridge and Westminster Bridge are only a few kilometres apart.
London Bridge and Westminster Bridge are only a few kilometres apart. Photo credit: Google Maps

The incident comes just over two months after Khalid Masood killed three people in an attack at Westminster Bridge, and two weeks after a bomb killed 22 at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester.