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Six Killed, 30 Wounded in London Terror Attacks. Aired 1-2a ET
Aired June 4, 2017 - 01:00 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.
HALA GORANI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Hala Gorani. It is 6:00 am in London now, where at least six people are dead in a frightening terror rampage.
It started with a van speeding across London Bridge, mowing down pedestrians in the 10:00 pm hour in the British capital. One witness says people went flying into the air and that the van appeared to aim for people walking along the bridge deliberately.
British media say this is the rental van. Police say from there it drove to nearby Borough Market; panicked customers running for their lives as witnesses say that attackers started stabbing people.
U.K. police say six people were killed. We have some graphic pictures to show you from inside the market. You can see people with blood on their clothes, lying on the ground and others as well, tending to the wounded.
Authorities say more than 30 people have been taken to hospitals across London, some of them pretty badly injured; 80 medics responded to this scene, according to other figures authorities have shared with us.
Now we have this picture, taken by a witness, which shows two men on the ground. Now we're not sure if they are the attackers. But we are presuming they are. They're wearing some sort of fake suicide belt -- and listen to this testimony.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARK ROWLEY, LONDON METROPOLITAN POLICE: Our current belief is that there were three attackers. But this is early on, so we still have got some inquiries to work through to be completely confident about that.
And it shows armed response vehicles are out, driving around London, day in and day out to protect the public. They responded quickly, bravely confronted these three individuals, shot them and they are dead. (END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: Mark Rowley of the London Metropolitan Police. Let's bring in our senior international correspondent Fred Pleitgen.
So the police there saying we believe there were three assailants; they've all been killed by authorities.
So, technically, no one on the loose, no one left.
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, technically, no one on the loose but the big question now is, is there some sort of a larger network behind all this?
In the early stages when the police weren't sure whether or not there were still people on the loose, they were literally going house to house on a lot of these streets.
And you could hear all these bangs going off in the neighborhood right around London Bridge' we're not sure exactly what that was even until now, whether those were some sort of controlled explosions or some sort of diversion devices or something that they set off.
So there was a big -- not a big manhunt but almost a dragnet going on, where they were looking for people and now I guess the big question is going to be, is there a larger network behind all of this?
So are there possibly people still somewhere on the loose which might have had something to do with logistics, getting this van, potentially planning...
GORANI: And setting the scene, there was so much chaos and confusion that police didn't know among those running away from London Bridge who might have been an assailant.
PLEITGEN: Yes, absolutely. And there was really chaos not only here but of course also at the Borough Market as well. And it's quite remarkable that the police apparently able to take out the attackers in about eight minutes.
But of course with so many people then running around, it was impossible for them to tell whether or not there was another assailant maybe hiding in and amongst the crowds.
And when we came here about 45 minutes after the attack, there were still many people coming out of that area and the police really telling them to run and move very, very quickly.
GORANI: And some of them with their hands on their heads?
PLEITGEN: Some of them with their hands on their heads to make sure the police didn't think they might be assailants as well. But the police were really trying to keep it all orderly while also trying to make it go as fast as possible. They were telling people you've got to move very, very quickly, and always channeling them into the right place. But it was really -- it wasn't -- I wouldn't say a chaotic scene but
certainly there were some people who were very, very frightened as they came out.
GORANI: Talk to us a little bit; London Bridge obviously a major London landmark, Borough Market as well with rehab (ph). It's got tons of cafes and restaurants now, it's a hip area in London for young people to go out, have a drink and get some food, especially on a warm Saturday night.
PLEITGEN: And it was very, very full. Even when we got here, after the attack happened, it was still very full. There were still people you on the streets, a couple of streets down from here but also still out there at -- near the Borough Market area with them obviously all coming out and the side streets as well.
The weather was fairly warm. There were a lot of people who were out having drinks, having dinner, so it was really, really a packed scene. That of course was also the case when the van went onto London Bridge. There were also people there on the pavement walking around as this van that apparently started swerving from side to side to try and hit as many people as possible.
GORANI: And now, initially, there was a bit of confusion, because when we heard the reports of the Borough Market --
GORANI: -- stabbing attack, we thought, is this two separate groups?
But it appears as though the same individuals from the van attack then continued on to the Borough.
PLEITGEN: That's what it looks like. And in the initial stages, yes. They were referring to -- we were referring to two separate incidents that were taking place, even though it was clear that they were very, very close to one another and that it could very well be possible that the attacks were related.
And now it does appear as though it was the same people that apparently went through or went across London Bridge, then at some point stopped the van, went to the Borough Market and went on their rampage there.
GORANI: And there was a third reported incident at Vauxhall. That was nothing.
PLEITGEN: That turned out to be nothing. That was actually also a stabbing incident but apparently not related in any way, shape or form to the attack here.
GORANI: Thank you very much, Fred Pleitgen, our senior international correspondent following this story.
An eyewitness named Jack Applebee is a restaurant owner near London Bridge. He described the rampage as it unfolded. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
JACK APPLEBEE, RESTAURANT OWNER AND EYEWITNESS: Well, I was outside with a few friends and it was a little bit crazy. Like people just kept running down the street and like this one girl was like staying that they're stabbing everyone, they're stabbing people.
And I immediately just turned back around -- and I've got a restaurant full of customers and I just said, "Everyone, to the back," to the back bar. So I was trying to get there, just as quick as we can, literally everyone just got up off their seat, like rushed them all to the back.
And then it just sort of -- yes, you don't really think at the time, and just sort of went to go and grab the keys for the shutter and just sort of tried to put the -- tried to put the -- basically put the shutter down.
And I literally turned back around and there were these three men, standing there, one of which with a machete. And they had this sort of belt on. We didn't really -- they just looked at us and I just didn't really know what to do.
Everyone was sort of at the back of the restaurant and they just sort of carried on going back down towards the street. And me and a colleague ran to the front and we saw -- he kept lookout. And I just saw -- managed to get the shutter down. We just sort of got the shutter down almost or as far as we could.
And it was like a moment of panic. And like the shutter was just being as slow as usual. And we just saw everyone got locked inside and we left -- we left the shutter down. But then when we looked up -- we looked underneath, that -- probably about five minutes later, everyone was in the back. And -- which everyone was worried, like we don't know. There still was a gap in the shutter.
But about five minutes later, there was just gunshots everywhere. And everyone's upstairs, like just trying to keep down and we're just trying to keep everyone calm, my whole staff, everyone just sort of everyone -- really, the job, honestly.
It was like -- it was a moment of absolute panic. And then for about an hour and a half, we were hiding upstairs and there's just gunshots going everywhere. And what we seemed to believe might have been like suicide vests. So everyone sort of -- we put everyone in the staff room up top and everyone sort of kept down and just sort of handing out water to everyone.
And just sort of -- trying to keep everyone OK. It was just crazy. And then next thing, about an hour and a half later, the police knocked on the shutter and sort of -- they called for me to come give them the key. They opened the shutter and everyone gets sort of escorted out of there like immediately, their hands on their head, like running towards The Shard. It was just, yes, so crazy.
(END VIDEOTAPE) GORANI: Jack Applebee, a restaurant owner, who was a witness, speaking to CNN in the immediate aftermath of the attack.
The British prime minister, Theresa May is, at 10 Downing Street. She will chair a meeting of the government's COBR emergency committee.
The London mayor, Sadiq Khan, released this statement, "My thoughts are with everyone affected and I'd like to thank the brave men and women of our emergency services, who were first on the scene and will be working throughout the night.
"We don't know yet the full details but this was a deliberate and cowardly attack on innocent Londoners and visitors to our city enjoying their Saturday night. I condemn it in the strongest possible terms. There is no justification whatsoever for such barbaric acts."
This statement by the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan.
CNN's international diplomatic editor, Nic Robertson, joins me now.
Before we get to the attack itself, let's talk about the government response, because, after Manchester, here we're seeing another apparent terrorist attack. And the emergency services, the counterterrorism agencies and the police are going to have to look at exactly what happened and how to prevent this in the future.
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Absolutely. And so the most sort of immediate thing will be to consider whether or not these three men are in some way connected with a wider group and there will be the possibility connected to them of an immediate follow-on attack.
Certainly for the security services, knowing these were dummy explosives they were carrying, not real explosives, does remove the apparent threat of a potential bombmaker being on the loose, a bombmaking factory yet to be found.
That was certainly the situation in Manchester. So that perhaps is out of the equation. But for the prime minister --
ROBERTSON: -- and for her senior officials, the defense security, intelligence, police chiefs and others who will meet today, they will be weighing with the joint counterterrorism task force, they will be weighing the possibility of raising, as they did after the Manchester attack, the threat level from severe, as it is now, to critical.
Of course, went to critical shortly after the Manchester attack, indeed, at the second COBR meeting, the day immediately after the attack. But these will be the issues the prime minister will be facing. But, of course, she will hope to be getting by this stage some details about who these men were precisely.
Were they known to authorities?
Who was in their immediate circle?
And, therefore, begin to build that stronger picture of where the threat assessment should be and what precautions need to be taken from here -- Hala.
GORANI: Right, and we don't know anything about the attackers right now, right, Nic?
ROBERTSON: We don't, nothing at the moment, only that there were three. They came in the van. They rammed people, they jumped out with their knives, they attacked people with their knives. No more details beyond that.
Of course, we'll all remember that some of the key pieces of information last time were leaked from U.S. intelligence sources after they had been shared by British officials with U.S. counterparts to try to attempt to refine their search for who was responsible in the Manchester attack.
That's where the first information came from and also it led to the early announcement of, in the case of Manchester, Salman Abedi's name. We've had none of that this time, virtually -- very little information. The police press conference was the first time we had solid details; that coming just an hour or so ago.
And the emergency services releasing figures of how many people, how many casualties have been treated, taken to hospital and which hospital. So the information so far has been of a very limited nature, particularly when it comes to precisely who was involved.
GORANI: All right. They're certainly going to want to keep as much information now to themselves as they continue the investigation.
Also the big question is, did these three individuals act alone?
Was it just the three of them?
Was there a wider network?
Were they communicating in any way with an outside group?
All of these questions that we all want answers to as this city continues to grapple with the reality of another terror attack against Britain.
Now the U.S. president Donald Trump tweeted about the attacks earlier.
"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."
And then a bit later, "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!"
Those two tweets from Donald Trump. Coming up, we'll have more on the coordinated terror attacks in
Central London. Stay with us. You're watching CNN.
GORANI: Back to our breaking news out of London. At least six people are dead, dozens more wounded after the two terror attacks in the heart of the city Saturday night. Multiple victims were stabbed in a rampage through Borough Market, a busy area filled with shops and cafes.
And moments earlier, a vehicle raced across London Bridge, slamming into crowds of people deliberately. One eyewitness said this van appeared as though it was purposefully aiming for people. They say one person was thrown some 20 feet in the air. London police shot and killed three suspected assailants.
This picture shows two men on the ground, both wearing fake explosive vests. It's been less than two weeks since 22 people were killed after a pop concert in Manchester, England. Joining me now is Kaine Pieri, who witnessed some of the chaos here in Central London.
Kaine, where were you when the attacks started?
KAINE PIERI, EYEWITNESS: Well, I was just between Borough Market and the bridge. I was coming out of London Bridge station, having done a story with my colleagues, and we were wondering what to do.
And then as we were crossing the road on the -- just in front of where the pub, where the van stopped, the white van, we saw all these police signs. We arrived and people were (INAUDIBLE) armed police raiding the van. We saw --
GORANI: So you saw the (INAUDIBLE) that was ramming people or after it had stopped?
PIERI: I think it was moments after it had stopped. And people I think were really confused at that moment. I was that kind of (INAUDIBLE) between everyone, was like what happened. And then we saw the buses stop. We saw the people running, screaming --
GORANI: And we're showing video you shot --
PIERI: That's what I shot, yes, because I'm a journalism student myself. So I just thought, you know, what's happening. I knew something was wrong. My friends did, too. So we backed away. And that's when the police were running at us, literally screaming at us, "Get out of here! Get out of here!" Because I think they thought they might be bombed, there might have been something --
GORANI: So did you see any of the assailants?
PIERI: We don't know because, as I said, people were running around. But I did see one man in a white shell or T-shirt, running towards London Bridge and the police started running after him.
So then it was quite hard because there were people running away because we were being told to run away. And then some were running away, you know, suspects and us could have been mixed together.
GORANI: Because as we're now learning, it appears as though the individuals who attacked people with the van later on then stabbed people at Borough Market.
So where you were was probably in the middle of that --
PIERI: -- in the middle, yes. We saw that it was right in front of a pub restaurant, which the police had evacuated. And we were wondering whether it had been in there and it was just in the pavement. So it looked really bizarre.
GORANI: And police were -- I mean, there was confusion initially because they didn't know how many assailants there were and who among the crowd might also be responsible.
They didn't know who was an innocent bystander and who could have, in fact, been taking part in the attack, yes?
PIERI: Exactly. And, I mean, saying we were just poking around with people and people were just so confused and it was then after when they started putting up the cordon that we realized that there was a bit -- there was a bit more organization.
Then we saw like a group of 100 people coming with tears in their eyes, shocked. I speak French and I overheard someone telling someone literally that a loved person had passed and that they hadn't suffered. And that was really hard to hear.
GORANI: So you heard people speaking in French, saying I saw someone killed.
PIERI: Yes, we could hear some of the conversations with some people about who were killed and it was extremely powerful.
GORANI: At that point, when the police kind of moved you away, as far as away from the scene as possible, what was going through your mind as you were watching all this unfold?
PIERI: Well, as I put the video up --
GORANI: Did you -- did you immediately --
[01:20:00] GORANI: -- realize this was an attack, this isn't an accident?
PIERI: No, I mean, as I've been learning in journalism, you can't -- you know, you can't say what you don't know.
GORANI: That's a very good instinct.
But what was going through your mind at the time?
PIERI: I did think it maybe was -- it had a feel about it. I mean, my mum called me up and told me to go home. But we still stayed. We were about 500 meters away from the scene. And we still stayed as close as we could to find out -- we wanted to know if there was something that we could do, something to help.
GORANI: Yes. So when you were speaking with people around you, a lot of chaos, confusion; you saw these people with tears in their eyes, come from the scene of the attack, presumably.
What were you discussing with your friends and the people around you about what to do next?
PIERI: Well, I mean, we actually -- we missed the train before it gets into London Bridge. And had we not missed that, we would have arrived 10 minutes earlier. And going over that, for us to get to the bus was exactly where it happened.
So we were just thinking it could have been us, you know, if we hadn't missed that train. We were wondering what to do. It was already 2:00 in the morning by that time, you know. And you can't just go to bed after that. That's the thing that kind of unites everyone that you just, you know, want to do something.
GORANI: Kaine Pieri, thanks very much. Really appreciate it. Sorry you had to go through a pretty traumatic event there in London. Thanks for joining us.
We're just now hearing, in fact, that the number of people injured has risen to 48. The number of people killed in this attack, six. That is the death toll as it stands.
Samuel Burke joins me now live from Scotland Yard with more on what police have been saying -- Samuel.
SAMUEL BURKE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hala, right now police are trying to make sure for absolute certainty that there were only three attackers. We know that they shot three attackers there on the scene within just eight minutes of when they were called.
And what it sounds like from the police is that they're fairly certain there were only three but they're trying to do everything they can to make sure that they know for certain that there isn't somebody else who is a part of this group, who could be out there, and part of that isn't just that physical investigation and putting more police presence out on the street here in London this morning, but also the digital investigation. Police were just out here a short time ago asking anybody here in this area to upload any images or video that they captured on their cellphones.
Now we see those images on the news but they become of great importance to the investigators, to try and make sure not only that they understand the timeline perfectly of how this all played out but also to make sure that they have accounted for everybody, both victims and possibly assailants.
So they want those videos uploaded to this website so they can look to make sure that there isn't somebody else who could still be out there on the loose.
But I just wanted to give you a clearer picture of how this all played out from the police side.
At 10:08 pm local time, they get the first call about that incident that you were just talking about with that witness there at London Bridge. And they arrived very quickly. They have armed vehicles that they say patrol London day in and day out.
And then shortly thereafter, they realized that there's another incident going on in Borough Market, which, again, is very, very popular. So many people there, especially on an evening like this, during the weekend, going to restaurants and bars and within eight minutes they have confronted those three men and shot them.
But you see these videos that people pouring out, you can see the confusion, police having to deal with trying to figure out who are the assailants and who are just the innocent pedestrians, people walking with their arms up above their heads as police try and figure out who are the good guys, who are the bad guys in this situation.
GORANI: All right, thanks very much, Samuel Burke. We're hearing from police that three assailants; they don't believe any more are on the loose. Initially there was confusion about that as well.
Aaron Cohen is a former member of the Israeli counterterrorist unit. He is in Los Angeles and joins me now.
And the fact, Aaron, that this was a low-tech attack; in other words, that there was no sophistication like a suicide vest or anything like that makes it much harder for counterterrorist agencies to detect this type of thing because there might not have been any training abroad or even any direct communication with a terrorist group like ISIS.
AARON COHEN, FORMER MEMBER, ISRAELI COUNTERTERRORIST UNIT: Well, that's exactly right, which is why the security apparatus as far as defense goes inside of England, which is literally a terror -- a siege at this point, which is a city under siege, has to be dramatically increased. Monuments, national structures, schools -- let's just think about other places where three non-affiliated wannabe jihadists, who can grab machetes, blades and take a vehicle, can also create acts of terror. There's thousands of sympathizers -- again, and I've been saying this for a while -- you don't have to be technically connected to a larger terrorist --
COHEN: -- infrastructure like ISIS to carry out and attack and be lethal, which is why the defense has to increase the layering of the soft targets, can no longer be treated softly, can't take a soft approach to soft targets anymore.
We saw it at the concert; 30,000 people that that individual, whether he was connected to ISIS or not, I don't care. He waited, scouted, realized the best time to strike was at the end of the event, near the subway station. Blew himself up, ended up killing dozens of people.
So that's exactly to your point. Low-tech, these terrorists, look, you're not going to be able to do surveillance on 20,000 or 10,000 potential sympathizers who believe creating a caliphate in Syria and Iraq, but there are these pockets of people throughout Europe. It's a dangerous time right now for Europe because of the pressure that we're putting on them in the Middle East.
So they're coming over to this side of the ocean and, therefore, the security has to be multilayered, which means every layer would have to fail in order for a terrorist to reach its target. And that's what I believe we need to start seeing. Otherwise, we're going to keep having this same conversation.
GORANI: Right. And what you mean by that is what, that the soft targets need to be protected better with physical barriers, things like that?
I mean, because you have obviously more than one big landmark location in London. This would require blast walls and all sorts of concrete barriers all across the city.
COHEN: I don't think it has to -- I -- we're not talking about terrorists; there's the idea of good security and then there's just good security. We don't need blast walls and I think what we're talking about here is if I was a terrorist and I wanted to go into a crowd of people and I didn't have any affiliation to a sophisticated organization, where I could learn how to make a suicide vest and blow people up, where would I go?
Take an honest look at those places.
Where are the children?
Where are the large crowds of people?
Wherever those crowds of people and kids are, bags need to be checked before people can walk into an established. Undercover armed; police officers need to be around there quietly, looking for potential red flag indicators. And uniformed police on the patrol level, like we discussed earlier, needs to be armed. That will cut the response time in half. Again, the reason why (INAUDIBLE) wasted, once the terror (INAUDIBLE), another innocent person is killed.
So uniformed, plainclothed, private security; England needs to incorporate armed private security.
They won't like the sound of that. Too bad. They need to get armed private security guards trained in counterterror response in those public areas where there's large crowds of people, tourists. That's exactly where these guys are going. It is statistically known terrorists will go to the crowds. You have to protect them.
GORANI: I know that you said that in our previous hour, though a lot of Brits would disagree with you that that's the solution. But that's certainly why this conversation is very important to have in the aftermath of this terrible incident.
Thanks very much, Aaron Cohen, joining us from L.A. We appreciate your time on the program.
Our breaking new coverage of the London terror attacks continues; right after the break, the U.S. president offering his assistance to London. More on that, coming up.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): This is CNN breaking news.
HALA GORANI, CNN ANCHOR: The latest now in our breaking news out of London. At least six people killed, 48 wounded now. That's the latest figure Saturday night in back-to-back terrorist attacks in Central London.
Three suspected attackers were also shot and killed. So far there's been no claim of responsibility, which is not unusual. It usually takes several hours, if not days, before any group would take responsibility. In this case the main suspect is ISIS, though we don't know that for sure. This has not been confirmed obviously.
Multiple victims were stabbed in a rampage through Borough Market, which is a busy area, buzzing with people, young people going out to cafes, bars and restaurants.
Just moments earlier, though -- and you see it there on the map -- a vehicle raced across nearby London Bridge, not far from Borough Market, swerving and slamming into crowds of pedestrians.
Let's bring in our senior international correspondent Fred Pleitgen with more.
As I was mentioning there, no claim of responsibility. The M.O., though, is very much in keeping with attacks we've seen before claimed by ISIS.
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Exactly. And I think that's key to say, claimed by ISIS," because it really isn't clear with some of them whether ISIS is really behind them ,even though if you look at the Berlin attack, Anis Amri, clearly he said that he was doing this as someone who was fighting for ISIS.
So yes, this looks like those vehicle attacks we've seen in places like Nice, places like Berlin, in Sweden as well before this. So that's definitely something that the investigators are going to be looking at.
GORANI: And this is becoming common, right, these attacks that are low-tech, with knives and vehicles that post-fact ISIS claims responsibility for. And they claimed responsibility for the Manila incident and that was a robbery. So it seems the more they're under pressure in the Middle East, the more they're trying to associate themselves with --
PLEITGEN: Exactly. The more they're trying to associate themselves with them, the more you see these low-tech attacks and I think that really speaks to the fact that the authorities here are really pretty good at cracking down on some of these terror networks. So you see far fewer attacks that actually involve more sophisticated things, like, for instance, manufactured explosives.
You had the Manchester attack. But aside from that, you have the attack in Westminster was also quite low-tech where someone took a vehicle. Those attacks are just so difficult to prevent because anybody can get a vehicle, anybody can start something like this. There's not that much planning in all of this.
Having said that, I'm pretty sure at this point in time the police will be looking further than the three individuals who were killed there in Borough Market. They're going to look at whether there is a broader network, whether there were communications beforehand, whether more people were behind this, whether this was a larger sort of thing they need to be looking at.
GORANI: It's becoming depressingly familiar, right, our coverage of these attacks. Describe what it was like because you got here less than an hour after that first call was made to police, at 10:08 pm, we understand on Saturday night.
What was going on there?
PLEITGEN: There was a lot of chaos here. There were a lot of people still streaming out away from the London Bridge location. Police were telling them to move --
PLEITGEN: -- as fast as possible. Many of them had their hands on their heads to show police that they weren't assailants because there were so many people out here to begin with.
We learned later, apparently the police took out the attackers in about eight minutes after they started their rampage. It's pretty remarkable. But of course in that commotion that was going on then, with so many people trying to flee the area, it's unclear whether or not there might have been other attackers trying to mingle or mix into that crowd of people running away.
They were people who were really, really, really afraid. Standing here, watching them come out, it was remarkable to see also the police was quite calm but also really, you know, ensuring that they get out as fast as possible because, at the same time, there was a massive amount of assets that were moving in.
There were ambulances moving in, there were special police units moving in, heavily armed police units moving in, sweeping the area. So in order for them to be able to do their work and not have people still in the way, they needed to clear the area very, very quickly.
So it was really an operation that showed the professionalism also of the London police, I have to say.
GORANI: In less than 10 minutes.
PLEITGEN: Well, to get them in less than 10 minutes but also at the pace at which they moved assets in here and the pace at which they moved people out to make sure that they were free to conduct their investigation and the ongoing operation, as they were still -- couldn't -- didn't whether or not they were still searching for people.
It was really good to see, in a terrible situation like that, that the London police was definitely ready for something like this.
GORANI: Fred Pleitgen, thanks very much.
CNN's international diplomatic editor, Nic Robertson, joins me now, not far from our position south of Borough Market.
There were these images of the presumed assailants, wearing these bizarre, fake explosive belts.
What more do we know about that?
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Well, the police have said now they are precisely that fake vest, suicide vest, if you will, and it's not clear why they wore them but it would have certainly caused maximum terror.
We don't know what they had planned to do, what they had planned to do next after stabbing people. The police very likely surprised them by being on the scene so quickly and by confronting them with such deadly force so quickly.
It could have been part of a plan to go and sow more terror in other places by giving the impression that they were potentially going to blow themselves up. We just don't know. But that is obviously a line of inquiry for the police.
But for the police relief this wasn't actual explosives because that would have meant somewhere there was a bombmaking factory and there was a need to find out the location of that. That is removed from the table.
But for Theresa May, her COBR meeting today with senior defense counterterrorism, intelligence, police officials, secretary of transport if often there as well, he's a key figure in the broad spectrum of what the government does now.
But how does it posture itself?
How does it posture the security forces to give people peace of mind on the streets of London?
Because this is now the second attack in London, the third attack recently, so that's part of the consideration. So knowing that this wasn't explosives in those vests will allow them to make a better informed decision but there is absolutely no doubt, we heard it from the police overnight, there will be additional police and there are additional police on the streets and that will go to reassure people.
But getting to the point of providing the level of security that people are going to feel that they want in this environment, that is going to be tough and that's going to be something of political messaging for Theresa May as well, to manage the expectations and concerns there -- Hala.
GORANI: All right, Nic Robertson, thank you very much.
You're watching our continuing coverage of the terror rampage in London, six people killed, 48 is the latest figure of people injured. More on the breaking news story when we return.
GORANI: Welcome back. I'm Hala Gorani.
If you're just joining us, we want to update you on breaking news as we continue to broadcast live from London. It is 6:42 am here in the British capital.
At least six people have now been confirmed killed, 48 hospitalized in a pair of terrorist attacks in the British capital. Three assailants were also shot dead. So far, no claim of responsibility.
Here's what we also know. There was a first incident. Police say a speeding van mowed down pedestrians on London Bridge. Police then say, from there, the van drove to nearby Borough Market. Panicked customers 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 they were the assailants and they are, as you can see there, you can see that belt, that fake suicide belt, worn by the man in the foreground in that picture.
But police say they shot and killed three suspects in Borough Market within eight minutes of receiving the initial emergency call at 10:08 pm local time. Here is the latest update from the police.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARK ROWLEY, LONDON METROPOLITAN POLICE: We're treating this as a terrorist incident and a full investigation is already under way led by London's counterterrorism command. You understand that our knowledge of the incident is still growing but at the moment what we understand is as follows.
At eight minutes past 10:00 last night, we began to see reports that a vehicle struck pedestrians on London Bridge. The vehicle continued to drive then from London Bridge to Borough Market.
The suspects left the vehicle, attempting to stab a number of people, including an on-duty British transport police officer who was responding to the incident and he received serious injuries -- fortunately, not life threatening. His family has been informed.
ROWLEY: Our response officers then responded quickly and bravely and confronted the three male suspects who were shot and killed in Borough Market. The suspects had been confronted and shot by police within eight minutes of the first call.
The suspects were wearing what looked like explosive vests but these were later established to be hoaxes. The ongoing operation is led by the Met working closely with British transport police, City of London police and London's ambulances and fire services.
At this stage we believe that, sadly, six people have died in addition to the three attackers shot by police. There are at least 20 casualties taken to six hospitals across London but numbers are still rising.
I would like to repeat our request for Londoners to avoid the areas of London Bridge and Borough Market to enable emergency services to continue this operation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: The latest update there from London police.
Now world leaders have reacted to what happened in London yesterday evening. Australia's prime minister Malcolm Turnbull tweeted, "Our prayers and
resolute solidarity are today, as always, with the people of Britain in the face of the shocking terrorist attacks in London."
The president of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, reacted on Twitter, saying, "Following the latest London incidents with horror. Thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families. Please stay safe."
And the NATO secretary-general, Jens Stoltenberg, tweeted, "My thoughts tonight are with all those affected by the brutal London Bridge attacks. We stand together with the people of London."
I'm joined now by former FBI special agent Bobby Chacon in Palm Springs, California.
Right now what are authorities doing a few hours after these tragic attacks?
What exactly is standard procedure right now?
BOBBY CHACON, FORMER FBI SPECIAL AGENT: They're running their backgrounds, they're getting every kind of government paperwork, their driver's licenses, their passports, any kind of visas they may be here on. If they were U.K. citizens and they were born there (INAUDIBLE) went to school --
GORANI: Yes. But at this stage --
GORANI: Sorry, go ahead. Go ahead. Finish your thought.
CHACON: So they're also searching their social media, they're looking at any associates, did they have criminal histories, were they arrested, what were they arrested for, who were they arrested with.
If they traveled internationally, they're working with international partners to find out where they traveled, when they traveled, what they did there, when they came back.
They're doing all that general background information similar to what we found out after Manchester. Within eight hours or 12 hours that we had, the person (INAUDIBLE) we knew who his father was, who his brother was, we knew when he came back from Libya.
So those are the kinds of things they're doing now on these guys. They take their fingerprints, they run them through their systems. You know, they try to find out who they are. They probably already visited the family members if they have family members in the area.
They probably visited their homes, where they worked, where they lived, where they may have went to school. So they're trying to find out every bit of information, who these guys had contact with. If they worked, they're going to their employer; if they were in school, they're going to their university.
They're doing all of those things now to develop a background picture of who these guys were.
GORANI: And, Bobby, the fact there were three assailants in this case, does that change anything in terms of the investigation?
CHACON: Well, I mean, you assume that these guys were either -- you know, they were friends or they were cohorts somehow. Maybe they were -- if they were -- and we don't even know if they were Muslim but if they went to the same house of worship or if they went to the same school, if they worked together.
That's all going to play into their contact, because their contact is wherever they were together, it's obviously when they planned these things. They're going to find out -- they already know where that van came from, why they had it or how they had that van and things like that.
So the fact that there were three of them, you're going to assume that they were friends. Now you start building a group. Maybe there were five or six friends that always hung out together.
Now you're going to go look at those other two or three guys and say, hey, did you hear anything about this, did you know anything about this?
So they'll be looking at their phone records, their Internet contacts, their e-mails. So that's how they'll determine whether or not it was just limited to these three or maybe they were part of a larger group of even just friends or university or whatever they were part of, because everybody is part of something.
Whatever they were part of, what was that larger picture for these guys?
And did anyone in that larger picture know or have an idea that they were going to carry this out?
GORANI: All right, Bobby Chacon, thanks very much, joining us from California.
You're watching CNN. Stay with our breaking news coverage of the London terror attacks. We'll be right back.
GORANI: We're following the very latest after coordinated terror attacks here in Central London, not far from our position. Authorities say at least six people have been killed and 48 others were taken to hospital.
Police on the scene tried to clear the streets. It all started when a van plowed into pedestrians at London Bridge. There was so much confusion, police didn't know who among the people escaping might have been an attacker. One witness says he saw someone jump into the water to avoid getting hit.
There's the van on the screen for you. The attackers then started stabbing people at Borough Market on the other side of the bridge. It all happened around 10:00 pm on a busy Saturday night. So far, no claim of responsibility for the attacks.
The American president, Donald Trump, has spoken to the British prime minister, Theresa May. He offered his condolences and American support in investigating the attacks. Athena Jones has more from the White House.
ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, there.
President Trump has been briefed by his national security team about the incidents in London. That team was set to continue providing updates to the president as the situation unfolds.
President Trump also took to Twitter Saturday evening, tweeting first at about 7:17, 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 --
JONES: "-- extra level of safety."
Now the president does not mention London or these incidents in London in that tweet but we do know that one of the justifications the administration has put forward for this controversial travel ban affecting six Muslim majority countries is the idea of preventing terror.
Of course, the travel ban is now stuck in court.
The second tweet came just a few minutes later from the president, saying, "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!"
So the president there offering support to the folks in London. Of course, the White House is going to continue to monitor this and we will continue to monitor whatever reaction and further responses we get from the White House and share those with you -- back to you.
GORANI: Athena Jones at the White House, thank you very much.
Just to recap, six people confirmed killed and the number of injured has risen to 48, according to authorities, being treated at hospital. At 10:08 pm was when the first report of a vehicle plowing into pedestrians came in. Within less than 10 minutes, three suspected assailants were taken out by police wearing fake suicide vests.
We'll have much more on our breaking news from London. I'm Hala Gorani, live from the British capital. Max Foster continues our coverage after a short break. You're with CNN. We'll be right back.