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Terror Incidents in London; Aired 8-9p ET
Aired June 03, 2017 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
[20:00:05] ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, and welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Ana Cabrera.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm John Berman. Police responding to what they are describing as terror incidents at London in this hour including reports of a vehicle plowing down pedestrians on London Bridge and others being stabbed in a nearby market.
CABRERA: A witness tells CNN he saw a van speeding and swerving down London Bridge in what looked like an attack to purposefully hit people. A man says several people were hit and afterwards he says bodies were on the ground, not moving. The scene so terrifying at least one person jumped off London Bridge in an attempt to get away from the van, according to another witness. Now about five or 10 minutes later a witness tells us gunshots could be heard at nearby Borough Market, that's near the bridge.
BERMAN: Yes. Gunshots or some kind of bangs, whatever they are, there are belief to be police responding to reports of a stabbing inside a restaurant at the market. You're looking at photos right now of people huddling inside there, trying to hide. A witness says a man ran into the cafe with a large knife. The man then stabbed at least two people including a waitress who was stabbed in the neck, we're told.
This is the moment police responded.
You can sense the fear. You can sense the chaos which frankly has not really subsided in some areas. The White House says President Trump has been briefed.
CABRERA: And he has been tweeting. His first response to this incidence was a re-tweet from the "Drudge Report." Mr. Trump has since tweeted two personal tweets. The first one saying, "We need 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. Whatever the United States can do to help out in London and the UK we will be there. We are with you. God bless," he tweeted.
BERMAN: Yes. We're working to bring you every new detail as we get them. We have a team of reporters and security experts standing by.
Let's begin with CNN international diplomatic editor, Nic Robertson. Nic has really been near the scene for a long while now. Nic, tell us what you're seeing.
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes, John. The police have now enforced a hard cordon I would say about a mile from where the attack took place. This was a very fluid situation in the past hour or so. It now appears to have settled down somewhat.
If you look over my shoulder here, we might be able to give you a picture here of two armed police officers standing on the corner. These are not just officers with weapons. These are officers wearing bulletproof helmets, balaclavas, short automatic weapons, if you will. These looked like tactical special operations police officers here, standing on the corner.
From the way that they're standing at the moment they really seem to be in a position of sort of enforcing a perimeter earlier on. Officers dressed and armed just like these. They're literally tearing through the streets. We saw one man who was arrested and led away. The situation has slowed down and become a little less chaotic. We've seen other officers searching young men, patting them down, frisking them before sending them on their way.
But at the moment the area behind me, that main thoroughfare behind me that's just over my shoulder where those two armed officers are, the direction of Borough Market would be down there. They are out of sight here. A lot of police vehicles being staged. It's very hard to estimate the number of police officers in the area. We've seen the occasional ambulance but this is now a very, very heavily policed area.
It's not clear to us from where we stand what operations may be continuing at the center around the Borough Market and around the London Bridge area but this, if you will at the moment, is now becoming at the perimeter at least a static, stable situation but the way it was evolving earlier it was very dynamic. But for now we seemed -- it seems to be static here, John.
BERMAN: And, Nic, let's just make one thing clear and I think we can tell by the level of activity that is going on behind you, we have no word of any suspects in custody. We have no word that either dead or alive that they have caught up to anyone who may have been behind this pair of attacks.
ROBERTSON: When we saw the officers rushing through the street, clad in riot gear, running in one direction, armed officers running in the opposite direction, when the police were running us off the street, they were running us themselves at full speed away and gave the impression that there was an immediate danger behind them.
[20:05:07] My instinct was to -- was to guess that they potentially discovered a bomb. The situation has settled down. There's absolutely no indication that that is the situation at the moment. But no, you're right. We don't have a sense of what's happening. We don't have a sense if there are people still holding out, still taking cover and sheltering in place. We do know, however, that the police have tweeted in the very recent past here, they have tweeted to tell people to shelter, to barricade themselves in if they are stuck, to stay low, to turn the sound off on their phones, to turn the vibration mode off on their phones to give no indication of the locations they're held in.
So at the moment from what we can surmise, the number of armed officers that are on the scene here, the activity, the number of police vehicles that are parked just on the road behind me out of sight there, it gives the indication this area is absolutely flooded, saturated with police officers, which gives the impression there is a very serious ongoing operation that may -- may, and I have to stress that because we don't have those details -- may involve the search for individuals who may still be feared to be armed, dangerous and on the loose -- John.
BERMAN: There's every reason to believe a manhunt is going on right now as we speak behind you.
Nic Robertson in London near the scene of where this incident -- this pair of incident took place. And if you've been watching over the last hour listening to Ana Cabrera there was fear of a third incident in the Vauxhall neighborhood for some time. The Metropolitan Police in London are now making clear they do not believe that was connected to these other two incidents. They believe that was a stabbing there, not calling that a terror incident. But now they are specifically and clearly calling the two incidents, the one on London Bridge and the one in the Borough Market, they are calling them terror incidents.
Let's bring in CNN national security analyst Peter Bergen. He joins us now.
Peter, again, what is unique about this situation right now is there does appear to be an ongoing police operation for whoever might be behind what they are now tweeting as terror attacks.
PETER BERGEN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Yes. And of course, you know, ISIS called for attacks during Ramadan in the West this year. They've done that in the past couple of years. And unfortunately people are responding to those attacks. You may -- of course, John, you'll recall the attack in Florida, Omar Mateen, who killed 49 people at a gay nightclub in Orlando. He did that in the timeframe of Ramadan, the previous years.
Here you have what appears to be a terrorist incident. Is it an al Qaeda-inspired directed incident? Is it an ISIS-inspired directed incident? We don't know yet. But most of these incidents, whether they've been directed or inspired, have been ISIS. We've seen occasionally al Qaeda in Yemen, you know, directing attacks or attempted attacks in the West but typically these have been ISIS.
But, John, I would say one thing that's I think important here. The political context. I mean, Theresa May, the prime minister, faces a general election on June 8th. Her lead has very much narrowed with the Labour Party which is the main kind of challenger to her, and, you know, when you see what is happening in the UK over the last several months, you're seeing what looks like a campaign. You know, we always talk about the British having a stiff upper lip
and, you know, reacting to these things in a very kind of measured way and I think that's partly true. But when you have attacks at Westminster Bridge which kills five people, when you have the attack in Manchester which the sort of, you know, very large death toll, when you have these attacks, and we don't know what the death toll is, but it can't be -- you know, it could be, you know, fairly significant, it looks like a campaign and the question will be, you know, does that help Theresa May? She was after all the Home secretary which is the most important law enforcement officer in the United Kingdom and as a rally around the flag effect? O does it hurt her? Because, after all, in the incident in Manchester the perpetrator of that attack, the terrorist in that attack, was known to UK law enforcement authorities.
We don't know who is behind these attacks. But if turns out that they were kind of on the radar screen as is often the case, federal enforcement, you know, will that produce some kind of backlash which is to say, you know, why aren't -- why isn't this government protecting us enough? Which will be a very natural reaction and another natural reaction is to say, well, you know, there's a rallying around the flag effect and, you know, we're going to, you know, throw our weight behind the prime minister right now. But I think from a political point of view, I think this is a very dangerous moment for Theresa May.
CABRERA: I want to bring in right now joining us on the phone CNN senior national security analyst Lisa Monaco. She served as assistant to President Obama for homeland security and counterterrorism.
So I'm wondering now that we're learning this is being considered a terror attack. And there's two separate ongoing incidents right now, Lisa Monaco, according to the officials there on the scene in London, what's going on among these different agencies in terms of coordinating how they're responding to this incident?
[20:10:04] LISA MONACO, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, Ana, what's happening, I suspect, in the UK right now is, as you're seeing and as your correspondent on the scene has made clear, the first job is going to be of the first responders and the immediate response authorities to understand what the situation is on the ground. They're trying to separate the civilians, the passersby, potentially the tourists. Get them out of the area. Trying to understand what is the situation on the ground. Is there still an active ongoing situation?
It sounds to me like the incident that was reported in Vauxhall now, as we say, shaking out to be not related to the Borough Market and the London Bridge incident, and they're trying to disaggregate the various pieces of chaos here.
From the law enforcement and intelligence perspective the Metropolitan Police in London, that's the local police there, and the intelligence agency are going to be looking at every piece of data they understand, the linkages from the people that they've arrested in relation to the Manchester attack. They're going to see what is going on in the networks that they have some understanding of already that they've already been looking at.
Of course they can't make that much progress until they have some identity. Some piece to go on in this incident. They -- it sounds to me that they do not have anyone in custody yet. They haven't made any identification yet of the driver of the truck. But that's what's going on now. They're looking, trying to figure out who may have been driving that truck, trying to understand who may have registered that vehicle and get a piece, a place of -- piece of information to start from, to then begin making linkages. And when they do that they will reach out to their partners here in the United States, the FBI and our intelligence agencies, and to partners in Europe.
BERMAN: Lisa Monaco, stand by for one minute. I want to bring in Tom Fuentes, former assistant director of the FBI, a CNN senior law enforcement analyst.
Tom Fuentes, obviously -- probably two things if not many more going on right now on the ground in London. One of them is what we believe to be a very active manhunt and police operation to apprehend whoever was behind what they are now treating as a pair of terror incidents.
The other is to figure out who these perpetrators might be and if they're connected to anyone else especially in the wake of the Manchester attack more than a week ago, especially after what we saw on another bridge in London back in March.
Talk to me how you juggled those two imperatives. What's happening on the ground right now?
TOM FUENTES, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, first of all, John, you have hundreds of police officers involved in those efforts so they can do many, many things at one time and simultaneously and they are. They have the forensic search of that car trying to, you know, establish any DNA evidence that they could recover from it, any other documents, wallets, anything that might have been left behind in the vehicle. Then you have the scene of the stabbing and the same thing there, forensic evidence that they can obtain there.
Once they've established that any victim has received medical attention that they need then you have a crime scene search. Then they also have building searches going on in that area to make sure that none of the offenders snuck away or are hiding in a closet or some other part of one of those buildings so they have to do building searches.
And then it sounds like they may have one or more people in custody and then the next thing would be to try to identify them, what's their background, where do they live, who do they associate with, social media accounts, cell phone information, laptop information, and see like in Manchester are they part of a larger network that's out there or not. And that's going to be ongoing for several days to even get a little bit of information along those lines.
CABRERA: Are you surprised, Tom Fuentes, that they have not been able to at this point come out and say that they have somebody in custody? FUENTES: I'm not surprised, and dealing with the British over many,
many years, they hold their information very, very close to the vest, much closer than U.S. law enforcement agencies, and that's why they were so upset after the Manchester attack to have media reporting about any aspect before they were ready to give it. They don't like it. They don't allow it. It's against the law in their country to do it. And -- so they guard that information closely.
Now I would argue, in many -- on the other side of the coin is the public should know at what point they think that the situation is at least stable enough that the people are safe to go about their business or go home or back to their hotels or whatever. So it is a balancing act between informing the public of how long they need to stay locked down, you know, or what point can they safely -- relatively safely at least go home. We don't know.
CABRERA: We're being told --
FUENTES: And you're right. They're very slow in putting out the information.
[20:15:06] CABRERA: Tom Fuentes, sorry to interrupt. We're being told that Nic Robertson who's on the ground there in London right now may have some additional information.
Nic, what can you tell us?
ROBERTSON: Yes, Ana, I'm joined by Luca and Jennalyn (PH), both from Canada, both -- your work, you're in a dance troupe here?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're here for the -- we were here to help the NBC show "World of Dance" with Jennifer Lopez.
ROBERTSON: And you were both tonight close to the scene. Tell me what you saw, tell me what you heard.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We were just exactly in front of where it happened actually on the third floor.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In the Borough Market, yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: From the Borough Market on the third floor in Airbnb and basically we just heard gunshots, a huge crash, and then as we came out, you know, there were sirens, police sirens.
ROBERTSON: Were there a lot of police there?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not immediately. But police came in very quickly and took control of the situation. But again there was a lot of noise, a lot of loud noises, even more crashes and more gunshots. We weren't sure. And then, you know, from there basically police, you know, kind of took control of the situation. I think they took -- they yelled at us to come down.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
ROBERTSON: Tell me what you're thinking when all this is happening. What are you doing?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. We were just upstairs, like, in our little apartment, and we were just looking down and people were just all running. And we were confused as to what was happening and we just saw a whole lot of police and sirens and everything. It was really loud and kind of traumatizing, honestly.
ROBERTSON: Did you begin to think it may be an act of terrorism at that moment?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We weren't very sure. That wasn't --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have no idea. We just heard gunshots and we didn't really know what was happening.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The only thing we knew for sure is that something serious was occurring and that we need to be aware. Now exactly what it was we didn't know. But we knew that there was something huge happening just outside our doorstep and we could see immediately on people's faces the fear, you know, the surprise, and like, the need to get out. There's a lot of running, a lot of commotion that was happening. Thankfully, though, the London police, I mean, they came in and took control of the situation very well. But it was extremely chaotic for a little bit.
ROBERTSON: So right now we know that London police are calling it -- they believe this is an act of terrorism. They're telling anyone who is in a situation like you who are still there to hide in place, to barricade themselves in. What were the police telling you when you saw them?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, we were just upstairs and we were peeking out of the window to see what was happening and they just told us to come down and get out and run away like as far away as we can.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I mean, we have a flight tomorrow to catch, you know, back to Toronto again and all of our stuff are still in our Airbnb.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We just left it there.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everything is there. But they told us to come down immediately and get as far away from the place as possible. They told that to everyone and they were very consistent with that.
ROBERTSON: So when you're running down the street, what are you seeing? What -- when you're running down the street?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A lot of panic.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, just a lot of panic and -- UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A lot of commotion.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. A lot. Just a lot of people, actually they were -- well, they came out from their homes and some of them were barefooted in pajamas. Thank God we had time to change but we just got out of there as quickly as we could.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People without shoes. People without pants. People -- I mean, people were just literally running away as fast as they could and taking direction from the police to the best of their abilities.
ROBERTSON: Guys, thank goodness you're safe. Try and find somewhere to stay the night. We know that people are tweeting out there if you don't have anywhere to stay, come stay here. So take a look now, they're on Twitter-ville. People are really offering up support, help, somewhere to stay, somewhere to stay warm.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you very much.
ROBERTSON: I hope you manage to get to your flight tomorrow, guys.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Absolutely. Thank you.
ROBERTSON: London is a better place than this. Come back another time.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Of course. Thank you.
ROBERTSON: Good to see you. Thank you very much.
Ana, there you have it, a scene of chaos, confusion when the events went down. There are so many stories like this tonight. We are just beginning to hear them. As people managed to get out, begin to collect their thoughts, begin to realize and begin to understand, you know, precisely what's happened to them. People -- we've heard this so many times during this evening. People are only now beginning to process the events that evolved around them.
But, unfortunately, in London and Britain when something like this happens now people's minds are turning to the possibility of terrorism and the word that we continue to hear this evening is how quickly the police were on the scene, how quick they were to respond. But obviously so much more for the police to do for the rest of tonight -- Ana and John.
CABRERA: And we understand that police were actually at the bridge when this happened because they have their little section where they monitor, where they are providing security, this obviously being a popular area for the public but also for tourists who are visiting that London area.
Nic, I wanted to ask a follow-up question to you about our discussion here not long ago when you talked about those riot police and armed police running by you, and surrounding an individual, appearing to make an arrest. Have you learned any more information about whether that arrest was connected to this ongoing situation that they're now calling a terrorist event?
ROBERTSON: Ana, it's not possible to know at this stage. You know, this individual was standing, his hands were behind his back.
[20:20:04] They appear to be tieracked or handcuffed together. The police were surrounding him. He was taken away by a number of officers. They didn't appear to be armed. They did move him away from the scene quickly. But in a situation like this it's very difficult to know, were they moving him away because he had been obstructing him, were they moving him away because they believed he had been involved, were they moving him away simply because this was the only way that they could get him to leave the scene.
It isn't clear and typically what we see evolving in terror attacks in Britain is that the police here are particularly careful and controlled with the amount of information that they release. That they tend to release information that is designed to help the public be safe, to help the public get out of the way but won't release typically details of what they know about the individuals they have about the information that they're discovering because they're concerned that this -- and we're continuing to be told here just in the last five minutes I was told this is a continuing operation and the police will not want to tip their hand in any way to anyone else involved with these attackers or the attackers themselves if they're still on the loose and still listening or watching on television somewhere to figure out what's going on themselves.
BERMAN: All right. Nic Robertson, stand by for us near the scene there. We have some new video just in to CNN. Want to show you right now. You can hear what sounds like possible gunshots coming from the area around London Bridge. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There has been an attack.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: All right. You can certainly hear the confusion in all of that. CNN has not been able to independently confirm the authenticity of that video, but we wanted to play it for you so you get a sense of what's going on, on the ground right there.
With us now CNN global affairs analyst Kimberly Dozier is here.
Kimberly, I think it's very important to let people understand the timing of this incident. There's a general election in the United Kingdom on Thursday. You know, they have a different political system than we do. But imagine a presidential election five days away in what appears to be a dual terror attack happening in that country at that time. So there's that. It's also Ramadan, a time where we have seen terror attacks take place and it's also in the wake of the attack in Manchester not even two weeks ago when the UK raised their terror level to the highest it has been in more than a decade. They've since lowered it one notch but this comes at really the crux of many different things, Kimberly.
KIMBERLY DOZIER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: It does. And you have three terror attacks in the United Kingdom since March. This means things are different there now. People will not be able to just shrug this off as easily as, well, you know, it happened once and maybe it will happen again in two years. This feels like it's part of an orchestrated campaign. And for the police right now and the security services what they have to try to figure out is map out the network and figure out, is it inspired or directed by a terrorist group in a war zone?
Already on monitoring groups, Arabic monitoring services like the BBC World Service and site intelligence group, they're reporting that pro- ISIS social media channels are celebrating the attack today and earlier today on one of those channels it had actually urged followers of ISIS to use a truck or a gun to attack the, quote-unquote, "crusaders during Ramadan." That kind of language even if this wasn't directed by ISIS it plays into the worldwide campaign.
It also plays into the impression that even as ISIS is losing territory in Raqqa and in Mosul that it is maintaining influence and continuing to challenge the Western world. That helps it both gain followers and gain funding so this news is bad for London locally, bad for Theresa May, but also bad for the fight against terrorism.
BERMAN: And obviously, you know, for the victims as well, the people of London who are living through it tonight in what is now the early morning hours of London as well.
Kimberly Dozier, stand by. Again to keep people up to speed here, what London police are now calling a pair of terror incidents, one on the London Bridge, where a van appeared to intentionally mow down people walking in the late night hours and also a stabbing in the nearby busy Borough Market when people were out enjoying the restaurants and bars. We're covering all the new developments.
[20:25:01] We're going to take a quick break. We'll be right back.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN Breaking News.
BERMAN: All right. The breaking news tonight a pair of what London police are calling terror incidents, one on the London Bridge where a van appeared to mow people down intentionally, then a stabbing attack in the nearby Borough Market on the south side of that bridge.
We want to bring in Fred Pleitgen who's very near the bridge right now where there appears to be a lot of police activity around you.
Fred, what can you tell us? FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: John, yes,
absolutely. It was just a couple of minutes ago that we saw a lot of police vans, first of all, exiting the cordon with their lights flashing and then also going in.
I'm going to try and get out of your way for a second here. Maybe we can zoom in and you can see there still are a lot of those police vehicles that we've just seen right there by that cordon. I'd say, John, that we're maybe about 100 yards south of London Bridge so right on the fringe of where that incident took place. This is really the scene also --
[20:30:08] BERMAN: All right. I think we just lost Frederik Pleitgen who was just south of London Bridge which is also in between London Bridge and the Borough Market. Fred was telling us he's seeing a great deal of police activity near the bridge.
I don't know if we got you back, Fred. Are you there?
OK, we don't have Frederik Pleitgen but he was saying -- he was saying what he did see was a great deal of police activity, people leaving the cordoned off area, the police leaving with their lights flashing, again, part of this that we need to make clear is there does appear to be a very active manhunt. As far as we know right now there is no one in custody connected to this pair of incidents. Again, a van mowing down people in the London Bridge and a stabbing attack in the nearby Borough Market.
CABRERA: And CNN senior international correspondent Clarissa Ward is joining us now from our London bureau.
And, Clarissa, we were discussing earlier the fact that the timing of this is very important given the Ramadan is coming during then, it's coming right before the election in the UK and it's coming on the day before a Manchester benefit concert that's going to be happening a few hours northwest of London, and so there are multiple things that have raised the security across the country and have also made it a prime time for terrorists to do something just like this.
CLARISSA WARD, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Ana. I mean, just a week ago British authorities had raised the terror threat level here in the UK to critical. It had not been raised to critical which is the highest level, by the way, for a decade. Subsequently they reverted to severe but certainly there are a number of elements which you just touched upon in terms of timing which make this attack sadly rather unsurprising.
One of those is Ramadan, the Muslim holy month, which has traditionally been a month where we see groups like ISIS call upon their followers to launch whatever attacks that they can. And as we've seen ISIS getting squeezed on the battlefield in Syria and Iraq, we have definitely seen that manifest itself in an added attempt to launch these types of attacks overseas particularly in the West, particularly in European capitals London, Brussels, Manchester, while not a capital again a thriving city. And the targets so often seems to be the simplest of things which is
the western lifestyle or in this case people going out in the evening, having a drink, going for a meal, the Borough Market very popular with young people, with tourists. It's thriving. London Bridge obviously an icon of London, and, indeed, of Great Britain. So for a number of reasons, I think it's fair to say that a lot of people had come to the grim realization that we may see more attacks like this and particularly because it appears to have been somewhat improvised.
And what do I mean by that? I only mean that the weapons that we know so far have been used. Whether that be the van that was used to mow down or ram into those people on London Bridge or the knifes that would have been used in the stabbing incident reported at Borough Market. These are the types of weapons or improvised weapons you might say that we have again heard on ISIS calling its followers. If you can't make explosives, if you don't have a gun, it doesn't matter. Go out and get a car, go out and take a rock, take a knife, do whatever you can to inflict mass casualties and also to inflict maximum damage to a way of life that, of course, we in the west have come to cherish.
So the thing that authorities were really, though, be trying to drill down on right now other than of course we've seen it's a very active manhunt. We've seen people walking away from the area, a lot of people have their hands up above their heads, a sign to authorities that they are not armed, that they are just civilians trying to get out of the situation. So in addition to trying to find out if these attackers are still at large they're also trying to find out how many people have been hurt, how many people have potentially been killed, whether there are other potential attackers at loose. A very fluid situation. And that's why they're not releasing a lot of information -- Ana and John.
BERMAN: And to be clear, it's 1:30 in the morning right now in London. The early morning hours there. A lot of people probably up all night waiting for some of the answers to these questions.
Clarissa Ward, stand by. We do have a new notice from the U.S. embassy in London. The embassy has issued an emergency message for American citizens in London, it reads, "Police in London are reporting that serious security incidents have occurred on the evening of June 3rd on London Bridge and at the nearby Borough Market."
Just to be clear, they are in fact practically connected.
"U.S. citizens in London are urged to avoid those areas and to follow local media and other information sources for additional guidance. If you are a U.S. citizen in the United Kingdom and you are safe please let family and friends know including by updating your status on social media."
[20:35:06] CABRERA: Now when the first details of this incident started to come in we spoke with an eyewitness literally just moments after this all unfolded. He was still en route to go speak with police investigators with -- on a bus. His name is Mark Roberts in London. Listen to our conversation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARK ROBERTS, WITNESS: The police got here very quickly and it felt -- sounded to me like the gunfire was coming from the Borough Market area. And so I know London fairly well. And that sounded to me like the area it was coming from.
CABRERA: Now was that the same direction the van was headed?
ROBERTS: It's a bit further on so that would have been consistent with somebody getting out of the van and running away.
CABRERA: When you saw the van and the incident unfolding, how long did it take for police to respond? Were they very close to that area? Do you have a sense of how long it took?
ROBERTS: It was very quick. I mean, there were police -- the police were patrolling around all the time anyway in the area. Obviously at London Bridge station tonight and there were probably half a dozen police at the station itself earlier in the evening just being a presence. So they were on the scene very quickly.
I'm not going to be able to continue on the line. At the moment I'm on a bus. The police have gathered together all of the witnesses on the London Bridge. And they're taking us to a hotel where they're going to take statements from us. And so at the moment I'm being transported by the police to another location.
CABRERA: OK. And are the people that you are with all people who are uninjured or are some of them who were loaded up affected directly by this incident?
ROBERTS: They're all uninjured. People were being treated. There were paramedics all over the place dealing with the people who have been injured.
CABRERA: About how many people were injured?
ROBERTS: I don't have any -- well, in my line of sight I could see maybe five or six people on the ground. Spread out across the area that I could see. But I couldn't see any more than that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: Again we were just listening in to eyewitness Mark Roberts who was there at the scene, that interview from now almost three hours ago, about half an hour or so. He said after he initially saw that van come zooming down the bridge plowing into people and then he reportedly saw five or six people lying on the ground not moving. He was quickly cordoned off and taken now to some kind of a hotel to be further interviewed as police are trying to put together exactly what happened and who may be behind it.
One thing that he mentioned that was interesting was that the van or the vehicle was traveling in the direction of the Borough Market, Borough Market being the second location where police say there is also a terrorist incident that is unfolding. These are two ongoing situation.
And we're now getting a description from an employee at the restaurant where that second incident took place.
BERMAN: Indeed. It's a harrowing description of what went on there. Again this is from an employee at the restaurant. It says, "People were crazy, just with the knife. The people, they don't care about nothing. I saw three people but they say there's more than that. I don't really know how many people."
When he was asked how many people injured that he saw he said just three in front of us. He added, "Our door has holes so the police went in one corner and the guys went in another corner. And there was a fight or something. I don't know."
So this witness -- by this witness' account we can't tell if any of the suspects were apprehended. We can't tell how many suspects. It's very hard for witnesses often to tell how many people are running or fleeing or carrying out an attack because it is extremely chaotic there but you can the fear and the confusion in the moment.
And one other point, Ana, you keep on making, the Borough Market is essentially connected to London Bridge. It's just on the south side of London Bridge. So it's not impossible, one of the things that people are discussing in London is that the people who carried out the attack on the London Bridge, if they were in that van it would not have been far for them to get out, run perhaps, go to the restaurant there and carry out a stabbing attacks. So those two incidents could be extremely connected and, in fact, in proximity carried out by the same people. But we just don't know.
CABRERA: And we are going to continue to gather as much information as we can. As police say these are two ongoing incidents. They are calling them terrorist incidents.
[20:40:03] The UK is now responding. The prime minister saying that they will have a security meeting, a cobra meeting tomorrow. The president has also been briefed here in the United States and has met with his security team. He sent out a couple of tweets tonight saying whatever the United States can do to help out in London and the UK we will be there. We are with you, God bless.
We are going to squeeze in a quick break. We'll be back with much more of the breaking news unfolding right now in London. Terror incident and potentially terrorists still on the run.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN Breaking News.
BERMAN: All right. The breaking news out of London with the Metropolitan Police. They are calling a pair of terror incidents, plural, one on the London Bridge where a van appeared to mow down people walking across in the nighttime hours and then what appears to be a stabbing attack in a nearby restaurant.
[20:45:06] We have some video into CNN we want to show you. This appears to be at a different restaurant near the London Bridge. But you can get a sense of the chaotic scene as it's unfolding. A witness inside the bar, he captioned the video, police officers yelling for people to get down on the floor. Police were looking for men who stabbed two people inside and a nearby restaurant. Listen to this.
All right. Again, that's the scene at a nearby restaurant near where at least two people were stabbed in a terror incident there.
CNN senior international correspondent Frederik Pleitgen, he is near the scene in London Bridge, near one of the very active crime scene, a cordoned off area.
And Fred, I understand you just heard some loud bangs.
PLEITGEN: Yes, exactly, John. There were two loud bangs that we heard. I would say about maybe 10 minutes ago. Unclear what exactly it was, perhaps a controlled explosion or something, or perhaps even a stun grenade.
One of the other things that we also saw was a lot of police officers, armed police officers, with automatic weapons sort of sweeping through the streets I'd say about 80 yards away from where we are.
I'm going to step out of your way here. You can see the edge of the cordon from here. There's a lot of police cars still there, again we're 70 to 80 yards from London Bridge from where that original incident took place. So this is also the main sort of entry point for a lot of the police vehicles into that area and we've been seeing a lot of activity down that road, a lot of the police officers, as I say, with machine guns sweeping through those streets.
And a little earlier when we were here this was also the main place where people were actually running out of that area. You could see people who were being brought by the police, told to run as fast as they could out of the area, some of them with their hands over their heads. So a lot of really fear among many of those folks and we have also heard from eyewitnesses that we've spoken to here, some of them at some of those restaurants near Borough Markets talking about how all of a sudden people told them that there was a stabbing and to run as fast as possible.
This is actually also, John, the second time since I've been here tonight that we've heard several of those loud bangs. A little after I arrived here, I'd say about two hours ago, there were also five or six of those loud bangs. It was unclear at that point as well whether those were gunshots, controlled explosions, or something else that the police was conducting. But certainly there is still a lot of activity here and the mayor of London has just come out with a statement also saying that this is all something that is still unfolding.
So certainly the police here still very much on alert. There's still a lot of police vehicles coming in here in what really does seem to still be a very active situation, John. BERMAN: All right, Frederik Pleitgen for us, near the scene of that
incident, thanks so much.
CABRERA: Let's go ahead and bring in CNN international diplomatic editor Nic Robertson who is now joining us from the scene. He is joined by CNN counterterrorism analyst Paul Cruickshank.
And Nic, first set the scene for us as to what is happening there right now, what you're feeling as far as the changing dynamics on the ground.
ROBERTSON: Yes, Ana, I was talking a little earlier as if the -- saying that the police cordoned -- appeared to have gone static, that they set their perimeter, they were happy with that perimeter, the police have pushed back another hundred yards or so down this side street, off the main thoroughfare that leads to Borough Market. That is now a staging area for police beyond -- appeared to be counterterrorism police, if you will, were stationed on the corner of that street.
We've been pushed further away from that. I'm not quite clear why at this stage. I just heard a boom in the distance there. Not clear what that boom was but it sounded like a sort of muffled explosion. There were tall buildings around here so things echo. But that was the first boom that we've heard at this location.
Let me bring in Paul Cruickshank.
Paul, we're looking at the situation. We're trying to understand the context behind it. There are similarities here between the attack on Westminster Bridge, a vehicle used to mow down pedestrians, then a knife attack. Put this into context for us, if you will.
PAUL CRUICKSHANK, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: Well, by saying it's a terrorism attack here in London tonight and it has a lot of hallmarks of ISIS-inspired terrorism, that Westminster attack appears to some degree have been inspired by ISIS. That was an individual called Khalid Masoud from Birmingham, a 50-year-old who got a vehicle and drove it into pedestrians on Westminster Bridge killing four people and then went up to the Houses of Parliament and stabbed a police officer.
[20:50:07] And ISIS in their propaganda magazine is saying to their followers, don't just launch a vehicle attack, actually do that and then follow through and launch more attacks with guns or knives, anything you can get hold of. And so this has many of the hallmarks of these ISIS-inspired attacks that we're seen, ISIS enabled the attacks. And we've seen those of course in Nice last summer. 86 people being killed in Berlin in December. 12 people being killed. There was even an ISIS-inspired car attack in Ohio State University in the United States last year.
And this is becoming the new normal. It is really, really hard to defend against. But having said all that, there's been no claim of responsibility we've seen yet, Nic. ROBERTSON: But we're also -- if we look back to the Manchester attack
in the last week or so, we've learned a lot more about the scale of the problem that the police face. And the aftermath of that. They raised their threat level from severe which means an attack is highly probable to critical, which means an attack is imminent. Then a few days later, they took it back down, we're at severe which means an attack is highly likely. That's what we've witnessed. But we've learned a lot about the scale of the threat that the police face. What have we learned?
CRUICKSHANK: That it is really unprecedented. British officials telling me in the history of this company, the threat from Islamist terrorism has never, never been higher. So they're very concerned about this. They're actively monitoring about 3,000 individuals here in this country who they think could be a potential threat. A potential threat because they have Islamist extremist views. But there are further 20,000 individuals that over the years, since 9/11, they've also been tracking and they are thought to pose a residual threat.
So that's a total of 23,000 people that they have to possibly be worried about. That's a sort of huge figure in terms of tracking all these threats, monitoring all these threats. British counterterrorism doesn't have the resources to do that. If they tripled, quadrupled the amount of money, the amount of personnel, they still wouldn't have nearly enough to follow every lead. So they have to prioritize. They have to triage. They have to every day make judgment calls about which people to follow and which people not to follow.
We'll have to see, was this individual or individuals on the radar screen? It's an unfolding situation here in London. Not clear yet whether the danger is over.
ROBERTSON: Paul, thank you very much indeed. So a lot of context there from Paul. And of course as we do look back to that Westminster attack and the attack in Manchester, as Paul was alluding to that, the police will be looking through their records along with the intelligence services here. And what we saw in Manchester and the Westminster attacks, the individuals involved in those attacks had been on the police radar. Had been known to the intelligence services. So no doubt all that date will be being run down in cooperation undoubtedly with the U.S. intelligence services as well -- Ana, John.
CABRERA: All right. Nic and Paul there, stand by with us, as we continue to see the situation that is unfolding. Again, Nic Robertson reporting from nearby London Bridge where that one incident in which a car or a van drove into a crowd of people. Pedestrians who were on the bridge. At least five or six people, according to eyewitnesses, who were hit and then were then lying on the ground not moving. And then another separate incident that police are also treating as a terrorist incident involving a stabbing of at least two people, according to eyewitnesses, at a nearby restaurant in the Borough area.
Let's bring in our law enforcement analyst here with us. James Gagliano, he's a former FBI special agent. James, now that the officials have gone there. They are officially
calling this terrorist incidents. What does that tell you about what information they may have but aren't able to share just yet?
JAMES GAGLIANO, FORMER FBI SPECIAL AGENT: Ana, I think we have to presume right now is that they do have some pieces of evidence, some forensic evidence or possibly somebody in custody. And they have to believe now that this is a terrorist attack.
There were too many things that would have been coincidence for this not to be. It seems to have the prototypical earmark of an ISIS- inspired attack. And look, since 1971 when the anarchist cookbook was put out, bombings were the rage because you couldn't track people down the way that you can nowadays. For an ISIS terrorist now in the UK, some place in the West, to build a bomb and have it effectively go off and cause mass casualties, they'd have to purchase TATP, C-4, fertilizer, diesel fuel, all these things now that are traced and tracked.
And if you bring over one of the really good ISIS or al Qaeda bomb makers, they're on no fly lists so it is difficult to get them in. So what they're doing now is they're going after soft targets. And this 4,000 pound vehicle plowing into a group of pedestrians, followed up by -- remember, we're in Britain.
[20:55:02] They don't have a Second Amendment. So there is no proliferation of guns. Followed by a knifing attack, it follows the prototypical ISIS way of doing things.
BERMAN: James, witnesses on the ground there including our Frederik Pleitgen are reporting that they keep on hearing loud bangs. It can be very hard to tell sometimes when you hear a scene like this, whether they're gunshots or controlled explosions. If they're not gunshots, if they are more, you know, controlled explosions, what could they be? Stun grenades? Some kind of intentional blast? What would police be doing?
GAGLIANO: John, the -- I would find it highly unlikely, almost to the point of being able to say it's absolutely not a controlled detonation. If there were any unexploded ordinance there, they would either remove it safely or there will be robots right now or dogs moving in on that. There'll be a huge perimeter to make sure that there was no potential loss of life.
What I believe, and I listened to those sounds when we played it here on CNN, they did not sound like gunshots.
BERMAN: Not to me either. But you can't tell.
GAGLIANO: Right. They sounded like --
CABRERA: Something like bang.
GAGLIANO: They sounded like they're -- the operative term is diversionary devices.
GAGLIANO: If they do have somebody in custody, what they do -- if they had shot one of these guys, before they make entry to a place where these folks are barricaded or holed up, they would toss in what's called a diversionary device. It's a lot of noise. A lot of smoke. It causes the terrorists to be put off kilter so that they can go in and apprehend him.
CABRERA: OK. James Gagliano, stay with us.
CABRERA: Our FBI agent -- former FBI agent who is our CNN law enforcement analyst.
There's an ongoing situation unfolding right now in London. Two terror incidents near London Bridge. One happening on the bridge itself. A van driving into a crowd of people. Plowing over pedestrians, according to eyewitnesses, and then continuing driving.
The other incident happening at a restaurant in Borough Market. Two people at least stabbed, according to eyewitnesses, and the search for suspects has been ongoing since this happened more than three hours ago.
We have to squeeze in a quick break. We'll continue to follow the breaking news. Stay with CNN. We'll be right back.