21:59 GMT04 April 2020
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    On 3 June 2017, a terrorist vehicle-ramming and stabbing took place in London Bridge, a van deliberately driven into pedestrians on before crashing on the south bank of the River Thames. Its three occupants then ran to the nearby Borough Market area and began stabbing people in and around restaurants and pubs.

    For 10 days, an inquest into the 3rd June 2017 London Bridge attacks has heard evidence relating to the eight people slain in the first few minutes of the spree — now hearings will investigate the bloody next phase, in which the three terrorists proceeded to stab people in bars, restaurants and the streets in the Borough Market area.

    Among the witnesses is Geoff Ho — one of 48 people injured in the incident — who was in restaurant Black and Blue on the edge of Borough Market when the trio entered with "slow, deliberate predatory movements". Speaking at the Old Bailey, Ho said "it was like they were stalking someone" — he also recounted how he refused to acquiesce to their demands he lie on the floor, knowing "if I lay down I'd be dead", telling his tormentors "you don't have to do this".

    A woman places a rose with other floral tributes for the victims of the attack on London Bridge and Borough Market at London Bridge, London, Britain June 6, 2017
    © REUTERS / Marko Djurica
    A woman places a rose with other floral tributes for the victims of the attack on London Bridge and Borough Market at London Bridge, London, Britain June 6, 2017

    He told the court the three were wearing a series of "metal canisters liked baked bean tins" with wires connecting them, which he assumed to be explosives, and had "murderous rage" in their eyes.

    "If I rush him he might detonate and kill us all. The only thing I can do is talk to him and hopefully he will go away," Ho added.

    He went on to give a graphic description of his repeated stabbing, which left him unable to stand for quite some time. When he eventually rose from the floor, he was forced to clasp his hand round his throat to stop the bleeding.

    CCTV footage showed the time taken from the men entering the bar until they lashed out was less than a minute — "it seemed a lot longer," Ho said.

    Inquiry Continues

    Candice Hedge, a waitress at a cafe opposite Black and Blue, described customers "scrambling to try to get a safe spot" when the three attackers entered — she saw one of the men stab a customer twice in the back, then "the one beside me turned around as if to leave and then he saw me".

    "They were shouting something along the lines of they were not happy with the way we were living our lives," she added.

    Hedge tried to protect her face with her hands but was stabbed in the neck — she used a napkin retrieved from the bar to stem the bleeding, then fled to a downstairs kitchen where she waited with colleagues until police arrived about half an hour later.

    In all, the attack lasted less than 10 minutes, the attackers being shot dead by specialist police units — raising questions about how many more people would've been seriously injured or killed if their activities hadn't been so conclusively brought to a halt.

    Unanswered Questions

    It's unclear whether the inquest will investigate suggestions the attack was known about in advance by authorities, and could've been prevented. An official report issued February 2018 by David Anderson QC, the UK government's former independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, revealed Butt was under surveillance by MI5 and MI6 agents and Scotland Yard, and still the subject of "a live investigation" on the night of the attack.

    Butt, former disciple of jailed fundamentalist preacher Anjem Choudary, had been on MI5's radar since mid-2015 as a "subject of interest" — it was thought likely he was planning an attack, and up to 30 intelligence staff and undercover police monitored his movements him round the clock.

    While the surveillance operation was eventually downgraded, due to Butt being assessed as more likely to travel to Syria to fight for Daesh, he and his accomplices were watched by authorities loading a van outside his flat in Barking, East London, before the June 2017 atrocity — and intelligence officers didn't inform the police. A mere two hours later the vehicle was mowing down pedestrians on London Bridge.



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    foreknowledge, terrorist attacks, terrorist attack, murder, terrorism, Scotland Yard, MI5, United Kingdom
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