London: Grim determination as city faces its second attack in three months

London CNN  — 

Nearly two weeks on from the suicide bombing at the Manchester Arena, there was a sense in Britain that – at least for those not directly affected by that attack – life was slowly returning to normal.

Landmarks in London and across the UK had been on a heightened state of alert, as the country’s terror threat level was raised to critical in the aftermath of the bombing.

But as of last weekend, that threat had been reduced one level down to severe, and attention was shifting back to everyday life.

On a beautiful sunny Saturday at the end of a mid-semester school holiday, London had been as busy and thriving as it always is.

Borough Market, a popular destination for food-lovers, is packed with gourmet restaurants and old fashioned pubs centered around a vibrant food market to the south of London Bridge, right next to the River Thames and in the shadow of the UK’s tallest building, the Shard.

At 10 p.m. it was still warm enough to sit outside, and the market area and its restaurants were crowded with people.

Britain has faced terror attacks in the past – be it from the IRA, or more recently, Islamist radicals – and they too have come suddenly and caused sharp bursts of shock and grief.

But once the police cordons have lifted and the sirens have subsided, life has gradually, determinedly, returned to normal.

Police officers and members of the emergency services attend to a person injured in an apparent terror attack on London Bridge in central London on June 3, 2017.
Armed police fired shots after reports of stabbings and a van hitting pedestrians on London Bridge on Saturday in an incident reminiscent of a terror attack in March just days ahead of a general election. / AFP PHOTO / DANIEL SORABJI        (Photo credit should read DANIEL SORABJI/AFP/Getty Images)
Witness describes taking shelter during attack
02:53 - Source: CNN

Yet this vehicle and knife attack in London is the third terrorist atrocity in the UK in the space of three months.

There will be the same grim determination, the same calls for the nation – particularly its capital city, a repeated target for terror – not to be cowed by fear.

Via Twitter and Facebook, Londoners have been quick to offer accommodation to those stranded in the London Bridge area as public transport and cabs became scarce – the same sense of camaraderie that was seen in Paris, Nice, Berlin, Brussels and Manchester.

This Thursday, Britain is going to the polls in the general election. After Manchester, campaigning in the election was suspended for three days before returning, at first subdued and then with the full rough and tumble of party-political point-scoring.

While Britain still mourned for those killed and injured in Manchester, life was going on.

With Theresa May rushing back to Downing Street to chair a top-level security meeting, Cobra, in the middle of the night, campaigning will surely be suspended again, at least for a day – although it is hard to imagine the election being delayed or suspended.

But, with seven victims and three attackers dead, and 48 people taken to the hospital, these are questions for another day.

London and the UK have been shaken once again, but its people are strong.