Terror returns to Britain days before snap elections

Several people were stabbed, two of them fatally, on London Bridge by an islamist released from jail a year ago

Several people were stabbed, two of them to death, late Friday afternoon on London Bridge by an islamist released from jail a year ago. The attack happened less than two weeks before snap elections in Britain to be held on 12 December. It immediately pushed law and order towards the top of the political agenda, after police said the assailant had previously been convicted of terrorism offences but freed early from jail.

Wearing a fake suicide vest and wielding knives, Usman Khan went on the rampage at the London Bridge, killing two people - a man and a woman. The 28-year old was wrestled to the ground by bystanders and then shot dead by police. In 2012, Khan had been convicted for participating in an Al Qaeda-inspired plot to blow up the London Stock Exchange. He was released in December 2018 subject to conditions.

PM Boris Johnson was fast to asuume that the London Bridge attack was a terrorist act and vowed to end a practice whereby serious offenders can be automatically let out of prison early. “I have long said that this system simply isn’t working,” he said after visiting the scene of the attack on Saturday. Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the main opposition Labour Party, criticszed the government’s sentencing policies. “There’s got to be a very full investigation,” he pointed out.

Islamic State on Saturday claimed the responsibility for the attack by saying that it was carried out by one of its fighters and was in response to its calls to target countries that had been part of a coalition fighting the jihadist group. The group did not provide any evidence for its assertion.

On Saturday, Police were continuing their investigation by searching addresses in Stafford and the Stoke areas of central England, with the country’s top counter-terrorism officer saying they were not looking for any other suspects. “We have found no evidence to suggest anybody else was involved in this attack,” said Neil Basu. “Our investigative priority at this time is to ensure that there is no related outstanding threat to the public.”

London Bridge was the scene of an attack during the 2017 election as well, when three militants drove a van into pedestrians and then attacked people in the surrounding area, killing eight people and injuring at least 48. Islamic State said its fighters were responsible for that attack, but the British authorities have cast doubt on those claims. The 2017 attack focused attention on cuts to policing since the ruling Conservatives took power in 2010.

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