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London knife attack suspect was 'ex-terror convict'

The attack took place just weeks ahead of elections [Getty]

Date of publication: 30 November, 2019

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Police identified the man, who was shot dead by officers after Friday's attack, as 28-year-old Usman Khan.
A man suspected of stabbing two people to death in an attack on London Bridge was a former prisoner convicted for terrorism offences and released last year, police said on Saturday.

Police identified the man, who was shot dead by officers after Friday's attack, as 28-year-old Usman Khan, saying they were not actively seeking any other suspects in relation to the incident.

"This individual was known to authorities, having been convicted in 2012 for terrorism offences. He was released from prison in December 2018 on licence," Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu said in a statement.

Three more people were wounded in the daylight stabbing spree which revived memories of a three-man attack on London Bridge two years ago that killed eight.

Basu said that Khan had been living in the Staffordshire region of central England and officers were searching an address in that area.

"The circumstances, as we currently understand them, are that the attacker attended an event earlier on Friday afternoon at Fishmonger's Hall called 'Learning Together'," the statement said.

"We believe that the attack began inside before he left the building and proceeded onto London Bridge, where he was detained and subsequently confronted and shot by armed officers."

Fishmonger's Hall is a historic listed building on the north side of the bridge in the centre of the capital.

Scores of police, some armed with submachine guns, rushed to the scene, ushering bemused office workers and tourists out of an area packed with office buildings, banks, restaurants and bars. Staff in office blocks in the area were told to stay inside.

Witnesses reported seeing what appeared to be fighting on the bridge, as several people attempted to hold a man down.

One video posted on social media showed two men struggling on the bridge before police pulled a man in civilian clothes off a black-clad man on the ground. Shots then rang out.

Other images showed police, guns drawn, pointing at a figure on the ground in the distance.

Amanda Hunter said she was on a bus crossing the bridge when she heard shots.

"(The bus) all of a sudden stopped and there was commotion and I looked out the window and I just saw these three police officers going over to a man," she told the BBC.

Read more: Cricklewood mosque attack: Muslim stewards 'stopped another London Bridge'

"It seemed like there was something in his hand, I'm not 100% sure, but then one of the police officers shot him.”

Karen Bosch, who was also on a bus, said she saw police "wrestling with one tall, bearded man" and then heard "gunshots, two loud pops."

The incident revived memories of the June 2017 London Bridge attack, when three Islamic State-inspired attackers ran down people on the bridge, killing two, before stabbing several people to death in nearby Borough Market.

That incident took place days before a general election. Britons are due to go to the polls again on 12 December.

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