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Six Killed, 30 Wounded in London Terror Attacks. Aired 3-4a ET
Aired June 4, 2017 - 03:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): This is CNN breaking news.
MAX FOSTER, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Max Foster in London, where it's just gone 8:00 am, London waking up this Sunday morning to more police on the streets in the wake of the latest terror attack here in the British capital.
At least six people are dead, 48 others have been taken to hospital. The city's mayor, Sadiq Khan, spoke about 30 minutes ago, offering strong condemnation for the attack.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SADIQ KHAN, MAYOR OF LONDON: Today I'm appalled and furious that these cowardly terrorists would deliberately target innocent Londoners and bystanders enjoying their Saturday night.
There can be no justification for the acts of these terrorists. And I'm quite clear that we'll never let them win, nor will we allow them to cow our city or Londoners.
Just like terrorists are constantly evolving, finding new ways to disrupt us, harm us, attack us, the police and experts and all of us are finding new ways to keep us safe.
Londoners will see an increased police presence today and over the course of the next few days. No reason to be alarmed. One of the things that police and all of us need to do is make sure we're as safe as we possibly can be.
I'm reassured that we are one of the safest global cities in the world, if not these safest global city in the world. But we always evolve and review ways to make sure that we remain as safe as we possibly can.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FOSTER: Easier said than done, I guess. The attacks began with sheer panic on London Bridge, as a van ran down pedestrians, reminiscent of the March attack at Westminster Bridge and numerous others around Europe. One witness says people went flying into the air and one person had to
jump into the River Thames to avoid the van.
That's happened before as well. British media say this is the rental van from London Bridge; it drove toward nearby Borough Market. Patrons came streaming out of the restaurants with their hands raised. They'd been told to do that in these incidents.
Witnesses say the attackers charged inside and started stabbing people. Authorities say 48 people were taken to hospital across London. France's presidential office says French citizens are amongst the victims.
We have this picture taken by a witness, which shows two men on the ground at Borough Market. We don't know for sure if these are the assailants but police say they shot and killed all three attackers. They were wearing fake explosive vests. So far no claim of responsibility.
Nic Robertson joins us from one of the cordons.
Nic, we're going to be talking about the same sort of thing we were talking about last week after Manchester, after Westminster, after Nice, after Berlin.
Is there anything different about this attack?
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: The number of people, three people; Berlin, a single person; Nice, single person; Westminster, single person. There were three people here; they did it together. That does take, as we've been saying through the night, planning and preparation. It takes an amount of agreement.
But, Max, I've got to tell you, the police cordon has been pushed back, collapsed in. And in the last minute or so, literally been standing on the street, passed by several hundred young people. You might be able to see them walking down the street there in a line.
They've spent the night out, not able to get to their hostels because their hostels were inside the cordon that police are now letting them come forward.
So I think what we're beginning to see, the police beginning to relax their lines here. They've moved the cordon. We were around the corner here, just up the street. It's now been pushed further back down the road behind me.
And compared to this time last night, this time last night, Max, in this very location, Antonio Mortensen (ph), my producer and I, were literally being chased up this street by police, who were running at full speed because there was clearly something they were afraid of; they wanted to clear the area. This wasn't done in an orderly way. It was absolutely panicked, absolutely hectic.
And as we were running up here, we were confronted by heavily armed police in special forces black helmets, black balaclavas, automatic weapons, coming into the area. It was a very hot zone just a few hours ago overnight, Max.
So it is changing, the situation is calming and the police are beginning to let some people back into the area that's cordoned off. Not clear when it's going to be open fully. Probably the area right around the attack not for some time yet. But this cordon is drawing in -- Max.
FOSTER: Yes, obviously last night, Nic, hotels were being evacuated as I walked through. The whole area, a massive lockdown.
Isa Soares is with me as well.
FOSTER: Because you've been following the process of events here; there's some confusion whether it was one attack or two attacks. Just take us through what you understand.
ISA SOARES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, we don't know much in terms of who they are but we know there was more than two people. That's what we've been hearing.
We -- of course, it's early stages of the investigation, according to the Metropolitan Police. But let me give viewers a sense of how it all unfolded.
A first call came in 10:08 in the evening. It was a beautiful, sunny day yesterday. People out drinking in busy areas of Borough Market and this area, too. What we had was these men in this van plowed into people on the bridge, hitting people, the van was just swerving around.
They then ditched the van there and on foot went to this area of Borough Market. And just for international viewers, this is a very busy area. Lots of restaurants, lots of food stalls, posh food stalls, very busy. So what they did, they went on foot to this area, Max, with knives and then started going in --
FOSTER: But this was a rampage and it clearly was --
SOARES: It was. And we heard in the last hour from one person that saw it happen, just basically going into this restaurant and started stabbing people.
We then know that the police shocked these two assailants, who had some sort of phony bombs wrapped up around their bodies, as you saw from these photos. That period, from beginning to end, it took them eight minutes.
FOSTER: Incredible work by the police.
SOARES: Absolutely. FOSTER: A busy area to have made that very bold decision to shoot two or three people.
SOARES: Absolutely. And what police were saying, Metropolitan Police were saying was, run, hide, tell. And people were trying to adhere to that.
We saw, fro what Nic was saying, people being pushed right back, telling everyone to run far back, people with their arms raised. And this just goes to show how alert Londoners are in many aspects to what we've seen.
But Londoners waking up this Sunday in a state of shock because this, of course, -- it's the second or so incident, terrorist attack, in two months -- Max.
FOSTER: The elections on Thursday, it's interesting to hear Sadiq Khan speaking, he's the mayor of London. One of his messages wasn't his normal message, well, it was there, we have to live our lives, continue living our lives. But he was also making a huge point, that you have to go out and vote on Thursday in defiance of this.
What did he mean by that, do you think?
SOARES: Well, he basically said terrorists cannot stop democracy, we need to keep that going. We cannot allow them to deter us in our pursuit of democracy, affect our lives.
But interestingly he said, when he was tweeting in the -- when this was all unfolding, he basically said, I'm appalled and furious; and he said this was a deliberate and cowardly act.
Then today he uttered the same message, talked about also the response of the medical teams here and the police, praising them. But interesting talking about this election, saying, they cannot stop us; we must go out, we must go out and vote.
Although we know already that campaigning has been postponed until we don't know for how long. But you can imagine this is not a time of forcibly knocking on doors.
FOSTER: Really, the psyche of the country after Manchester, after London, is it a good time to be holding elections?
SOARES: This is what many people no doubt will be asking but, at the same time, you can't let, as Sadiq Khan said, you can't let terrorists get in the way of your daily lives and try and interrupt it; the country must move on. And if they need, politics goes on and you need someone in control.
And I think that sense of leadership needs to be there. So it's crucial, that message from Sadiq Khan, who, importantly, is also the first Muslim mayor of London. FOSTER: Yes, the most high-profile Muslim leader of the country. But it's -- we don't know -- we have got no claim of responsibility so far on this. We don't know who's behind it.
SOARES: And he said very interestingly, Max, that this is one of the safest cities, if not the safest city.
FOSTER: It doesn't feel like that, though, does it?
FOSTER: Does it feel like that?
SOARES: I don't think so.
FOSTER: Here's a timeline of events as we know it. Isa took you through the basics. But police at 10:08 got that call last night; they began to receive reports that a vehicle was striking pedestrians on London Bridge.
The van then crashed just past the south end of the bridge. The attackers then left the van on foot and stabbed people in restaurants. That was in the Borough Market there.
At 10:16 pm, eight minutes after the first reports came in, police say they shot and killed the attackers. And those policemen are being praised today by the authorities.
Let's get more now on all of this from CNN law enforcement contributor, Steve Moore; he joins us from Los Angeles via Skype.
Pretty extraordinary, isn't it, that, within eight minutes, three people in a very busy area were shot. And there's no questions really about whether they were the attackers, although we're awaiting confirmation. It seems as though they were.
STEVE MOORE, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it's -- certainly seems they --
MOORE: -- were. And you're right, Max. This is not just getting there within six or seven minutes but identifying the target, making sure that they were not innocent people and engaging them successfully.
This was moment after moment after moment of a success. And we know statistically, from active shooters, at least in America, that, for every minute that an active shooter is uncontested, one person will die. So the quick response literally saved lives. And you can count the lives that they probably saved.
FOSTER: In terms of the type of attack, it has obviously hallmarks with the Westminster attacks. Someone -- people driving into a crowd and then jumping out of the vehicle with knives.
That's the sort of attack we can expect to see in London, right?
Because it doesn't have this gun culture. But there's always alternatives to guns.
MOORE: Right, right. You can melt down every gun in the world and people would still kill people in the streets this way, at least terrorists would. And this is a new type of attack that the terrorists are using, called -- the British called it a marauding attack, where you start with one means and you finish with another means -- until at least you are stopped.
FOSTER: What do we learn from it, though?
It keeps happening.
MOORE: What we learn from this is that you are not going to be able to protect every place. If not this location, if not Borough Market -- if Borough Market is an armed encampment, they can still find a McDonald's.
I challenge anyone to drive down the street tomorrow or today and see a place where there isn't a crowd of people that would be vulnerable.
What we have to do is put more people into this and delve deeper into the communications and the type of propaganda that's coming over from ISIS and the type of people who are consuming this propaganda.
FOSTER: The cordon has just been lifted as you were speaking around us. You can see the road is quite busy now where it had been closed off, it was complete lockdown.
What does that suggest to you, that the investigation is pretty conclusive so far?
MOORE: I would suggest it depends on whether that's been completely released. But, if so, that's a very quick crime scene investigation. I would guess that they're still working in certain areas.
But right now, Max, the real effort is not necessarily at the crime scene. It is going through all their records, all their files, all the information that they might have on these guys.
They're going to be close friends, maybe even brothers. But they are going to have appeared on somebody's radar. And if they haven't, we've missed something terrible.
FOSTER: OK. Steve, thank you.
There will be the inevitable questions about what the intelligence services knew about these attackers. And certainly after Manchester, that was a huge issue. We'll wait to hear what they had on these guys.
But obviously so many terrorists, suspects across the country -- and they can't follow all of them. It takes something like 20 surveillance people, we're told, to follow each one of them.
Another terror attack in the U.K., six dead, 48 hospitalized. Police say three assailants have been killed. We'll be back with more after the break.
FOSTER: This is what Londoners are waking up to today. Police on the streets, cordons around a big part of Central London just south of the river here.
We are standing where the cordon was. It's been moved back, which suggests that the police are across the investigation here in London. We learned last week how they throw police officers at these terror attacks.
This is the very latest one and it happened here in Central London this time. Authorities saying at least six people have been killed, 48 others taken to hospital. Some of the victims were French.
Police on the scene tried to clear the streets during the chaos. Mayor Sadiq Khan praised the emergency response team saying they acted heroically. This all started when a van plowed into pedestrians at London Bridge.
One witness says he saw someone jump into the water to avoid getting hit. The attackers then started stabbing people at Borough Market. This all happened about 10:00 pm local time on a busy Saturday night. So far there's been no claim of responsibility.
Samuel Burke joins us live from Scotland Yard.
And as Nic was saying earlier, this does stand out as a terror attack because there's more than one person seen as the perpetrator.
SAMUEL BURKE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And, Max, the most important part of this investigation right now, police tell us, is to make sure that they have accounted for all of the attackers.
They're working under the assumption that the three men that they shot there in Borough Market were all of the attackers. But they say that this is the initial phase of the investigation. So that this is just an assumption that they're working under right now. And they're doing everything possible to make sure that all of the attackers are indeed accounted for.
So there are two things that they're doing right now. They're carrying out the physical investigation here on the streets of London -- and we've seen that increase. Police presence already, all throughout the morning, we've seen an increase in the amount of unmarked police vehicles whizzing by here in front of Scotland Yard.
But, Max, they're also carrying out the digital side of that investigation. We had police out here a short time ago, asking Londoners who were in the area to upload any and all images and videos that they captured on their mobile phones to a special website because the police aren't just using that video and the timestamps that they see on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to put together their own timeline.
They're also trying to analyze those photos and videos to make sure that everybody is accounted for in terms of the attackers.
And some of that video that we saw that was uploaded to social media shows just how chaotic and intense that situation was. You and Isa have been describing how police were able to do, in just eight minutes, from the first time they got that phone call about the incident on London Bridge, to the time where they killed the three attackers, in that short timespan, you can see how quickly they're moving.
And in some of the videos you see the police pouring into restaurants and not knowing who is in an assailant, who are the victims, who are the innocent bystanders, just asking everybody to get down, shouting for everybody to get down and put their hands behind their heads so that they can figure out --
BURKE: -- who the attackers are. Then people pouring out of these restaurants and police, again, having people put their hands behind their heads so they can try and quickly figure out who the attackers are.
Just briefly, I want to tell you about what one eyewitness inside one of those restaurants told us where these stabbings took place. He said all of a sudden, somebody came running up to the restaurant and said, "There's a man outside stabbing people."
People immediately went flying toward the back of the restaurant, trying to hide. And then either one or two of these attackers came in, stabbed a waitress right there in front of everybody and then stabbed another patron and then left the restaurant.
So it's these types of videos that the police want to try and get. You see people in the midst of all this, recording on their cell phones and they want to try and get that so they can make sure they understand every aspect of what happened -- Max.
FOSTER: OK. Samuel, thank you.
They will be throwing a lot of resources at this, we know that, following what happened in Manchester. Alongside Samuel there, you saw the defense secretary going into the emergency COBR meeting. This is the top-level emergency committee in this country; they're meeting today to try to make sense of everything that happened last night. What they'll do is they'll have the top counterterrorism officers, the
top intelligence officers and the top ministers in the country, getting around the table, assessing the latest intelligence and making sense of that.
After that we do expect to hear from the prime minister; if not her, then a senior cabinet minister. We'll obviously bring that to you live with the latest information. That's where we tend to get the latest on the intelligence here.
Former FBI special agent Bobby Chacon is with me from Palm Springs in California.
So when those cabinet ministers get around the table with the head of the MI-5 and the head of the Metropolitan Police, what do you think they'll be discussing, what's the priority here?
BOBBY CHACON, FORMER FBI SPECIAL AGENT: The first priority is to see if this is part of a larger group that could carry out follow-on attacks in the coming days. So that's the number one priority. Make sure that this is a contained event so that the group is not more diverse. So that's the first thing they're going to ask and say, what do we know about these guys?
How big is this cell?
What's this network like?
Could there be others ready to carry out follow-on attacks?
That's number one.
Then they're going to get down in the weeds of who these guys were, they're going to find out if they had any foreign connections, foreign travel, what they were doing here -- there in the U.K., what their connections were to the community, to whatever groups they belong to.
They're going to see if there are any tentacles out there to follow, that need to be suppressed, that could be a continuing threat.
FOSTER: Is it interesting to you that it wasn't a lone attacker this time?
CHACON: No. I think what we saw in Manchester, the lone attacker, he was a lone attacker but he was part of a much larger group. These three could be more attackers but part of a much smaller group, if that makes any sense, in that they could have carried out all of the planning and things themselves because of the lower sophistication of the method of attack in this particular event.
So it's a larger group but it's overall a smaller group, if you will. I know that may not sound like it makes sense, but in the sense that these guys didn't need a very extensive network to go rent a truck and to obtain a machete. Those are things that they could have all done themselves. These could be -- these could turn out to be three thugs who were
unhappy for some reason and just got themselves all riled up into carrying out one of these attacks. I personally believe it probably has something to do with Ramadan and the worldwide call by ISIS to step up attacks in the West during this period of time.
I could be wrong about that. But that's my personal judgment at this point. We'll know more as the day goes on. But I think that -- it doesn't surprise me that this type of attack, you know, took place.
We saw multiple attackers in France. We've seen them before. You know, it doesn't surprise me that this took place between three guys, no.
FOSTER: Some pressure on the authorities this morning bubbling up because it's not Theresa May's decision but there is an independent decision made about the threat level of the country. That was lowered last week. It's been increased after the Manchester attack.
Does that suggest to you that there's no intelligence on this?
CHACON: You know, it indicates to me that there was no intelligence leading them to think that this particular attack was going to take place. Now the prime minister after Manchester did appear to say that there was an imminent attack likely and that's why they raised the threat level.
CHACON: I tend to believe that that was related to intelligence from that particular attack and they suppressed that with those dozen or more arrests that took place in the days after Manchester. I think they took out that threat, that imminent threat was neutralized, I believe.
And then they had no more intelligence to think there was any further imminent threat so that's when they lowered it.
I don't think this group was related in any way to the group at Manchester, the Libyan cell that was operating there, the method of attack is completely different. The level of sophistication is much lower.
So I think that, you know, the intelligence surrounding the Manchester attack did indicate a follow-on possible threat. And I think that that might have been suppressed by good police work and by the authorities in those arrests that took place.
But I don't necessarily think that the threat -- that this event means that the threat level should not have been lowered. We're going to see. We'll see, if information does come out that there was some kind of intelligence that would indicate another attack, then I think there's valid questions on why that threat level was lowered.
But this attack, in the way it was carried out, in no way do I think that there was definitely intelligence that would have stopped this type of attack.
This is a very crude attack. It could be planned on a very low level with very little communication between the people carrying out the attack and anyone else. This could have all been done in the back of a pub somewhere over a couple of beers.
And it didn't take a lot of contact with foreign people in foreign countries or people with any kind of level of sophistication, even in the U.K. I think -- it's possible that there was more of a network and we'll certainly find that out.
But I think the lowering of the threat level may have been appropriate for what they had. And I don't think, just because this attack took place, means that that was a mistake.
FOSTER: OK, Bobby, thank you.
The threat level is decided by an independent committee. Currently we know that ministers are meeting with security officials, discussing the latest intelligence on what happened last night. We'll wait to see how that feeds into the threat level, whether or not it may have to be reconsidered.
The British prime minister Theresa May speaking with U.S. President Donald Trump last night, tweeting about the attacks earlier, saying, "We need to be smart, vigilant and tough. We need the courts to give us back our rights," this is Donald Trump speaking, "We need the travel ban as an extra level of safety."
And then a bit later he said, "Whatever the United States can do to help out in London and the U.K., we will be there. We are with you. God bless!"
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): This is CNN breaking news.
MAX FOSTER, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to London, to our viewers in the United States and around the world. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM.
We're in London, we've got breaking news for you. It's grim news. At least six people dead, dozens more taken to hospital after two terror attacks in the heart of the city on Saturday night.
Multiple victims stabbed in a rampage through Borough Market, a busy area filled with shops and cafes. Moments earlier, a vehicle raced across London Bridge, slamming into crowds of people.
One eyewitness says the van appeared to deliberately aim for people. Others say one person was thrown some 20 feet into the air.
London police shot and killed three assailants within eight minutes of the initial call-out. This picture shows two men on the ground, both wearing fake explosive vests. The office of the French president, Emmanuel Macron confirms that French nationals were amongst the victims. So far there's been no claim of responsibility for these attacks.
It's been less than two weeks since 22 people were killed after a pop concert in Manchester in Northern England.
Jack Applebee owns a restaurant near London Bridge. He was standing outside when people came running down the street in panic and he describes what happened next.
JACK APPLEBEE, RESTAURANT OWNER AND EYEWITNESS: So I would say probably about six or seven times we heard gunshots going off down the street. Each time we like three or four, maybe more gunshots at a time. That first one, probably heard about 10-15 gunshots.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And where exactly did you see these men in the vests that you described?
Were they right outside your restaurant or a ways away?
And what were they doing?
APPLEBEE: There were two men, one of which we saw the vest on, which, luckily, one of my colleagues, he was -- he was so good, he's like -- he's like really a devout Muslim, like such a good guy. And like he was just -- he was honestly one of the heroes in it all.
He just saw -- he just told everyone, he said he saw the vest and told everyone to get back, kept everyone calm, like told me what it was and we just put everyone to safety.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Jack, can you --
APPLEBEE: -- with this -- with this -- what appeared a vest. And we just worried about an explosion.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Jack, did it look like a suicide vest, did it look like what you've seen pictures of suicide vests?
Were there wires?
Were there --
APPLEBEE: No, I just saw like big packets all around him, like just saw around his stomach really. But nothing, nothing went off. And like there were police, like police lights all on the body, like making sure he don't move. Like the police seemed to do like really good job very quickly.
And I don't -- I don't -- I didn't see -- I didn't see any actual casualties or injuries. All of our customers were OK. I'm just so glad they never came in and --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
APPLEBEE: -- we got the shutter down because if we didn't get them shutters down, when they were shooting them -- they died outside the restaurant. If they'd run in or something, I don't know.
FOSTER: Well, Isa's with me. And she's going to bring this story home for us, because, you know, you have a very dear friend who was caught up in this as well.
ISA SOARES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. He was in Borough Market. But you know, Londoners waking up in a state of shock. And although the road behind us is open, there's no sense of normalcy, because this is the third attack, as you've been mentioning, in three months. A similar attack to what we saw when we covered Nice and Berlin, this very low-tech way of attacking people.
So at 10 o'clock, basically, police got the first call. These men in this white van that we saw plowing into people, deliberately swerving across London Bridge.
SOARES: Then they ditched the van and on foot with their knives went into this market area.
FOSTER: What happened, why did they get out, do we know?
SOARES: Well, I don't know; we don't know at this stage. We know it's a very early stage, we know very little about them. We know they were swerving and then hitting people purposefully.
If you remember when we covered Berlin, Max, is that what they were doing were plowing into people, because there were so many bodies they couldn't move forward, they were trying to reverse, going the other way.
So I don't know if that's a possible theory --
FOSTER: -- Borough Market have been like at that time of night?
SOARES: Yesterday was a beautiful sunny day in London, people were out drinking, eating. For those of you viewers who don't know Borough Market, lots of upscale food bars, lots of bars, restaurants. And that was -- it was really very busy.
I was speaking to one of our colleagues who was there two hours before this all unfolded and she said it was just a beautiful night in London. People were very happy. FOSTER: And they were running through with knives?
SOARES: Running through with knives, going into restaurants, stabbing; stabbed a police officer we know, also stabbed a couple of people in a restaurant. When the people saw that, many hid. Many started running. But the period was eight minutes between the first call and the time they were actually killed.
FOSTER: And just put that into context, because you're saying this is a very busy area, people sitting down in restaurants. And the police managed to find their men --
SOARES: And it is incredible --
FOSTER: -- and shoot them.
SOARES: -- isn't it? And that's why we have heard Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, really praising the police services for how quickly, for the heroism, how quickly and how well they handled this because eight minutes in a crowd of people, where you really don't know who is who, is very, very difficult.
FOSTER: They had these vests on, right?
They had these vests on, these phony vests. And that's how police obviously were able to put them down and they were shot. We don't know very little. We don't know very little about who they are.
We've been hearing on social media (INAUDIBLE) -- it's -- we don't know, we just have to wait for police confirmation.
But this is a city that is on high alert. You know, people are clearly on edge. And although we have heard from Sadiq Khan, saying this is one of the safest cities in the world, if not the safest, I don't think people will be waking up feeling that way this morning.
FOSTER: It's starting to feel like that, isn't it?
SOARES: It is. And although we're all so proud of being Londoners, we'll not be cowed by terrorism, there is that sense of, shall I go into Central London today?
FOSTER: Do you think like that?
SOARES: Do I think like that?
At certain moments I do. I wasn't in London when it was all unfolding; I arrived very quickly when this was all happening --
FOSTER: Knowing someone that was caught in the attacks, does that make you think twice?
SOARES: -- having some -- one of my friends right there in the heart of, you know, hiding, texting me for an hour on end, asking me to call the police -- it really brings it home, doesn't it.
FOSTER: It does. It keeps happening. And we're now questioning what we can learn from these things.
SOARES: And we've got police, police today, armed police when I was coming in at very early hours of the morning, fully armed police --
FOSTER: -- now we find it reassuring.
SOARES: -- just a few minutes ago before you tossed to me, there was a bag that was left unattended just right there. Normally, we're like, oh, there's a bag. But now we're very, very much on edge.
FOSTER: It feels like the new normality. And we know all this being discussed at the highest levels in Downing Street right now, the cabinet office in fact at the end of Downing Street. We're going to bring you updates from that meeting as they come in to us.
FOSTER: That was just a few hours ago, ambulances rushing to London Bridge where we are following breaking news this hour for you. At least six people killed, 48 taken to hospital, in a pair of terrorist attacks here in the British capital.
Three assailants also shot dead. French citizens amongst the victims, according to the president's office there over in Paris. So far there have been no claims of responsibility.
Here's what we know, then. In the first incident, police say a speeding van mowed down pedestrians on London Bridge. Police say from there, the van drove to nearby Borough Market. Panicked patrons went running for their lives as witnesses say the attackers started stabbing people.
We also have this picture taken by a witness, which shows two men on the ground; they were wearing fake explosive vests. We don't know for sure if these were the assailants but police say they shot and killed three suspects in Borough Market within eight minutes of receiving the first emergency call.
We're joined by FBI special agent Bobby Chacon in Palm Springs in California.
It's extraordinary isn't it, really, how the police are responding to these incidents now. There was a time when they would take a few days to even call it terror.
BOBBY CHACON, FBI SPECIAL AGENT: Sure. And you know what's even more heartening is the way people are responding. I saw several restaurant owners say they immediately began huddling their patrons into the back room or the basement or things like that.
I mean, people are -- you know, it's unfortunate people have to get used to this but it's also good to see that people are taking action quicker. And I think that's saving lives. I think that people are getting to the point where they're wise to some of these events. And when they -- caution is the better route to take, and so I think they're reacting to these things quicker, the public is.
I think that part of these guys wearing these fake suicide vests, in addition to keeping the police away, if there's a knife attack, members of the public might be more willing to engage with a chair or with something else on somebody attacking someone else with a knife.
And I think these guys probably realize that wearing those fake suicide vests would even keep other people, members of the public, away from engaging them as they carried out this attack.
FOSTER: Bobby, thank you.
CNN's international diplomatic editor Nic Robertson is at Downing Street.
And at the end of the road, you've got that very high-level emergency meeting taking place right now.
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: That's right, Max, a COBR meeting. The prime minister chairing it along with the heads of security, intelligence, defense. And other key cabinet members like the transport secretary also expected to be present. She will be getting an update on what the police know --
ROBERTSON: -- what they've been able -- what information they've been able to accumulate on these three dead attackers or who they may be connected with.
It will be a first gathering, a first presentation of that information, if you will. And if we look at the example of the Manchester attack, the COBR meeting that the prime minister chaired the morning after, remembering that this attack came in the 10:00 pm hour at night, the Manchester attack came in the 10:00 pm hour at night.
The following morning the prime minister chaired a COBR meeting. It wasn't until the COBR meeting she chaired later in the day that she actually announced a change in the security threat level. So perhaps it would be too early in the day to expect that at this meeting.
But this is where she will be considering the implications of the knowledge and information that is gathered before she can begin to, if you will, present a message to the people of Britain that one would expect and she would hope would calm the country. This is the third attack in two months. So there is a lot on the
prime minister's shoulders this morning. The election just a few days away. This attack and what to do about it and this is the first of what we can expect to be a number of these COBR meetings, Max, in the coming days.
FOSTER: The election, as you say, just a few days away on Thursday. The Conservative Party suspending campaigning yet again. So that's going to be a couple of days, presumably.
What's this mean for the election?
Because we've heard Sadiq Khan saying people must go out and vote.
ROBERTSON: Yes, and Sadiq Khan, the London mayor, also said that some people will have already voted in their postal ballots. And of course the arguments will be, well, we must show resolve, we don't want to give in to the terrorists, we must show them that the democracy they hate thrives. That was the message he had. There will be other people that may feel that this unfairly or unreasonably unsettles the political equation.
The political equation here, let's face it, has been shifting, the polls have been tilting away from the prime minister over the past couple of weeks, tilting towards the Labour Party.
And there, perhaps, further down the road, could be some sort of inference somehow that this will have influenced the outcome of the election. So that's something that would have to be considered.
But it does seem, at least from the voices that we've heard so far, that this is a process that the country and the government is committed to and that there isn't a possibility to go back.
You know, schools plan to be closed on this Thursday so that polling can be held. Many other places where polling will be held, it was scheduled for this week. Remembering that 11 days after the election on the 8th of June, the Brexit negotiations will begin; a lot hangs on this.
You don't change the date of an election overnight. So I think it's too soon to say. We need to hear from the prime minister.
However, I think the preponderance of expectation at this time is to hold back on the campaigning but press ahead with the election. But, Max, this is really too soon to say until we've heard from the prime minister.
FOSTER: OK, and we expect to hear from her in Downing Street in the coming hours. We'll go live there when she does that. Back in a moment.
FOSTER: The terror attacks here in London come ahead of a memorial and benefit concert on Sunday in Manchester, in the north of the country, for the victims of the May 22nd suicide bombing at the Ariana Grande concert.
Despite what happened on Saturday, the benefit show is expected to go ahead as scheduled. It's going to be a lot more poignant as a result of what happened here in the capital as Manchester continues to come to grips with what happened just last week. Phil Black joins us now from there -- Phil.
PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Max. In so many ways, Manchester seems to have gotten back to normal. People are going about their lives last night as news of the events in London were breaking. Bars and restaurants were full.
But things are not normal here. There are still -- not entirely, but there are police everywhere, armed police, heavily armed officers. Indeed, here in the center of town, we're still seeing so much raw emotion, people still coming to the site of this memorial to reflect and think about the 22 victims of that attack that took place outside the Manchester Arena less than two weeks ago.
So today was always going to be emotional with this benefit concert taking place, with Ariana Grande returning with a list of international stars to raise money for the victims but also send a powerful message to people who believe in these sorts of violent acts.
It's going to be more so now because people here are still very much dealing with processing the suffering they have experienced. Today they will be feeling a tremendous amount of empathy for the people in London. The shock and the anger that is being experienced there as well.
Pulling off this concert is going to be a huge challenge, logistically and emotionally. Logistically because of the security, keeping 50,000 people safe at this huge event, while also protecting the rest of the city as well and, emotionally because it is still so soon after the attack, less than two weeks.
The police here have acknowledged that not everyone, not all the victims, thought it was a good idea to proceed with this. But most wanted to. The decision has been taken. There is tremendous goodwill to make it happen.
And as you say, it's expected to be especially poignant now, especially powerful, after the events that have taken place in London overnight -- Max.
FOSTER: I know, Phil, separately you've been working on general election stories as well, working with the Labour Party; just heard from them that they are suspending campaigning, as expected, presumably. BLACK: You would have to say so, indeed. Politically, this is -- well, it's an incredible event to have taken place yet again in the middle of an election campaign for the Labour Party, at a time when its momentum had been building, when opinion polls were showing greater support for the Labour Party and its leader, Jeremy Corbyn.
In that political sense, the timing is not ideal but there's simply no other decision that could have been taken --
BLACK: -- by the party, by its leader.
Once again, politics in this country has to come to a standstill as the people deal with these terrible events.
I know you've been talking about the likelihood of the election taking place over the next -- in the coming week or so, Thursday as scheduled.
It would be pretty extraordinary, you would have to say, for that to be shifted or moved because the one resounding message we have heard continually from political leaders in this country has been the importance of carrying on, continuing with our lives in every way.
And for the idea of these sorts of attacks to stand in the way of British democracy, well, that I think would be pretty much unthinkable to everyone in this country -- Max.
FOSTER: OK, Phil Black, thank you.
The mayor of London saying people must go out and vote on Thursday because terrorists don't want democracy; they don't want people to go out and vote, which makes it more important that people actually do on Thursday.
But the whole context of that vote now, it was already clouded by what happened in Manchester; now it's going to be clouded by even fresher events here in London and people on guard, police everywhere around this city. So a different atmosphere as people wake up this Sunday.
Thank you for joining us. I'm Max Foster in London. Back with more on the deadly terror attack here in London -- after this short break.