London Bridge attack: Knife-wielding suspect named

The knife-wielding man who allegedly killed two people near London Bridge was a convicted terrorist.

The man, who was shot dead by police after the terrorist attack on Saturday morning (NZ Time), has been named by the Metropolitan Police as 28-year-old Usman Khan from England's Staffordshire. Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu said in a statement that searches were being undertaken at an address in the area.

Basu also confirmed previous reports that the alleged killer was a convicted terrorist.

"This individual was known to authorities, having been convicted in 2012 for terrorism offences. He was released from prison in December 2018 on licence and clearly, a key line of enquiry now is to establish how he came to carry out this attack."

It's understood his 2012 conviction relates to being involved in the 2010 plot to bomb the London Stock Exchange. British media also report Khan had links to several Islamic terrorist groups, such as al-Muhijaroun. 

A man and woman were stabbed to death in the attack, while three others were injured and remain in hospital. The suspect was wearing a fake suicide vest at the time.

In a statement earlier on Saturday, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson - who has temporarily suspended campaigning for December's election - said the attack was "heartbreaking".

He also said he had long argued it was a "mistake to allow serious and violent criminals to come out of prison early".

No one else is being sought in relation to the attack which happened during London's Friday afternoon and Basu said there was "no outstanding threat to the public".

"The circumstances, as we currently understand them, are that the attacker attended an event earlier on Friday afternoon at Fishmonger’s Hall called ‘Learning Together’. We believe that the attack began inside before he left the building and proceeded onto London Bridge, where he was detained and subsequently confronted and shot by armed officers."

Both the Johnson and Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick have thanked emergency services for their fast response to the incident.

"I also want to thank the members of the public who have helped, either by showing extraordinary courage by stepping in or by following the instructions they’ve been given by officers at the scene and in the area," Dick said on Saturday.

One story of heroism to emerge from the tragic incident was that of a man wearing a suit who seized the blade. Another bystander who attempted to restained the attacker was armed with a large narwhal tusk grabbed from the wall at the Fishmonger's Hall.

Nurse Jackie Bensfield, 32, described how she asked to be let off a bus on London Bridge after she heard "five or six" gunshots.

Bensfield, who was on her way home from work, said she exited the bus and "ran like hell" to escape the shots.

Connor Allen, who was in his van on the bridge when it was evacuated said: "Everyone just started running, you heard these pops and that was it. We just got out the van and started running."

One business owner told the PA news agency she had been crossing London Bridge to get to her shop on the north side when police officers stopped her.

She said that was when she heard at least five or six gunshots and said that her store has been evacuated.

The woman, who wished to remain anonymous, said: "We heard shooting, it was about five or six shots, I heard five or six quite clearly.

"All my staff have been evacuated."

Dick says there will be an increased police presence in the coming days.

It's not the first time a terrorist attack happened at London Bridge during an election campaign. In 2017, a van was driven into pedestrians before the occupants attacked people in the surrounding streets. Eight were killed in that attack.

New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said her thoughts are with the families of the victims.

"We condemn all acts of terror and offer our support to the UK Government. No matter the place they occur, terror attacks strike at our hearts in the same way."