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7 dead, 21 critically injured in London attack

Heavily armed police fanned out across central and east London Sunday, after what the U.K. prime minister called a "brutal terrorist attack," when men using a van and knives killed seven people and injured 48 others.

Attackers hit pedestrians with van, stab others; Canadian among 7 killed

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      • Canadian Christine Archibald among those killed
      • Counter-terrorism officers arrest 12 in east London
      • Assailants wore fake explosive vests
      • 21 of the 48 injured in critical condition
      • Major parties suspend election campaigns
      • Manchester benefit concert will go on as planned

      Heavily armed police fanned out across central and east London Sunday, after what the U.K. prime minister called a "brutal terrorist attack," when men using a van and knives in the heart of the British capital killed seven people, including a Canadian, and injured 48 others — leaving 21 in critical condition.

      Prime Minister Theresa May said all three of the attackers, who were shot and killed by police, were wearing what appeared to be explosive vests as they targeted pedestrians in Borough Market and the streets outside London Bridge train station Saturday night.

      May says Britain's approach to counter-terrorism must change 2:22

      "But police have established that this clothing was fake and worn only to spread panic and fear," May said in a televized address after the third such attack in the U.K. in less than three months. May called for tougher measures to fight Islamist extremism. She said "terrorism breeds terrorism" and that attackers copy one another.

      Canadian was among those killed, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in a statement Sunday.

      "Canada strongly condemns the senseless attack that took place last night in London, United Kingdom, which killed and injured many innocent people. I am heartbroken that a Canadian is among those killed," Trudeau said.

      Christine Archibald, from Castlegar, B.C., was killed in the attack. 

      The 30-year-old woman was in London for the weekend with her fiancé, Tyler Ferguson. 

      There was no immediate claim of responsibility. However, the group Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) had sent out a call on instant messaging service Telegram early on Saturday urging its followers to launch attacks with trucks, knives and guns against "Crusaders" during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

      Just after 10 p.m. local time, police responded to reports of a vehicle travelling at 80 km/h on London Bridge and hitting pedestrians on London Bridge, which crosses the River Thames.

      Soon after, reports started coming in of stabbings at Borough Market, a nearby area full of bars and restaurants surrounding a popular food market. 

      Reports said the van had stopped near the area and three men wielding knives jumped out of the vehicle and attacked.

      Police stand guard near London Bridge Station and the Shard skyscraper after the deadly attacks that began with a white van mounting the side pavement and hitting several people on the bridge at 10:08 p.m. on Saturday. (Cameron MacIntosh/CBC)

      On Sunday, counter-terrorism officers raided an apartment building in the Barking borough of east London and arrested 12 people. It's believed officers set off controlled explosions at the scene. They later searched an address in East Ham, another neighbourhood in east London.

      May said Britain's parliamentary election will go ahead on Thursday, but her Conservatives and the main opposition Labour Party, along with the Scottish National Party, suspended campaigning on Sunday out of respect for the victims.

      The right-wing UK Independence Party said it would continue its campaign. Party chief Paul Nuttall said a second disruption to the campaign similar to the one that followed the Manchester attack  last month is "precisely what the extremists would want us to do."

      London Mayor Sadiq Khan described the male assailants as cowardly.

      "There are no words to describe the grief and anger that our city is feeling today," he said.

      "I'm appalled and furious that these twisted and cowardly terrorists deliberately targeted innocent Londoners and visitors to our city, who were just enjoying their Saturday night. I condemn these terrorists in the strongest possible terms."

      'Remain calm and vigilant'

      Khan urged "all Londoners and visitors to remain calm and vigilant as the investigation continues."

      U.S. President Donald Trump responded to the attacks with a tweet that promoted his controversial travel ban as "an extra level of safety." He also mocked Khan's response, in particular the London mayor's attempt to calm residents, with Trump criticizing "political correctness."

      A spokesman for Khan said in a statement the mayor has "more important things to do than respond to Donald Trump's ill-informed tweet that deliberately takes out of context his remarks."

      This woman and child headed to safety on Southwark Bridge, west of London Bridge, after the attacks. (Carl Court/Getty Images)

      French President Emmanuel Macron says four French citizens are among the wounded and one of them is in serious condition. In a statement Sunday denouncing the "abominable and cowardly" attack, Macron said France will continue fighting "terrorism with all our strength alongside Britain and all other countries concerned."

      Information for Canadians in London

      The High Commission of Canada in Britain said on Twitter that consular officials "continue to monitor the situation and offer support." Canadian diplomats in England were advising Canadians to avoid the area around London Bridge.

      The Canadian High Commission urged Canadians in need to call 00 800 2326 6831 or email sos@international.gc.ca.

      The Metropolitan Police force declared the attacks "terrorist incidents." Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley says, while they believe all the attackers were killed, the investigation continues.

      "We believe three people were involved, but we still have got some more inquiries to do to be 100 per cent confident in that," he said.

      Rowley said one of the attackers had rented the white van used in the bridge attack, which started at 9:58 p.m. with the vehicle going north to south before it was abandoned.

      An initial assessment shows eight officers fired 50 bullets at the attackers, striking and wounding a member of the public in the process. Rowley said that person's injuries are not believed to be critical and there will be an independent investigation.

      "The terrorists were confronted and shot by armed officers within eight minutes of police receiving the first emergency call," the prime minister said.

      Chaotic scene as police storm London Bridge bar following attack 0:37

      'This is for Allah'

      One witness, Gerard Vowls, said he left a pub near London Bridge and saw men attacking people on the street with knives. He entered a tavern, where he saw woman being stabbed by three men who said, "This is for Allah."  He said he threw chairs, glasses and bottles at the attackers in a bid to stop them.

      "They kept coming to try to stab me. They were stabbing everyone. Evil, evil people," he told The Guardian newspaper. "I want to know if this girl is still alive. I've been walking around for an hour and a half crying my eyes out. I don't know what to do."

      Documentary photographer Gabriele Sciotto, 25, had left a pub where he had been watching a soccer match, when he saw police standing over two of the gunmen who had been shot outside Borough Market. (Gabriele Sciotto/AFP/Getty Images)

      Bartender Alex Martinez said he hid in a garbage bin for half an hour when a man stormed the nearly full restaurant where he worked.

      "I saw that man with a knife in his hand and after that, a man started screaming, so I knew something wrong was happening," he said.

      Officer stabbed in face, journalist in neck

      Among the injured is an officer who was armed only with his baton when he confronted the three assailants, said British Transport Police Const. Paul Crowther.

      The officer, who was stabbed in the face, head and a leg, was one of the first responders. He is in stable condition, Crowther said.

      Simon Thompson told Sky News he was just outside Borough Market when he saw crowds fleeing.

      "We ran for like 100 metres and then saw loads of police cars turned up, and there was kind of a period of quite intense gunfire," he said. "I hid in a restaurant basement for about an hour. ... Police told us to get out and then there was more gunfire."

      The attackers "had no clue what they were doing. They were scared. The police were scared," he said.

      "They were just running around," said 25-year-old Gabriele Sciotto, the photographer who took a photo of one of the assailants lying on the ground, wearing what appeared to be canisters strapped to his chest.

      Men, women and children run down Borough High Street as chaos erupted. (Dominic Lipinski/PA via AP)

      This was the third attack of its kind to hit Britain in as many months.

      In March, a British convert to Islam ran down people with a vehicle on Westminster Bridge, killing four, then stabbed a policeman to death outside Parliament.

      On May 22, a British suicide bomber killed 22 people and wounded dozens at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester. After that attack, Britain's official threat level from terrorism was raised to "critical," meaning an attack may be imminent. Several days later it was lowered to "severe," meaning an attack is highly likely.

      A charity concert for victims of the Manchester attack, featuring Grande and other stars, will go on "with greater purpose" in the northwest English city on Sunday, Grande's manager Scooter Braun said Sunday morning.

      Grande, who visited Manchester victims in the hospital on Friday, reacted to the latest attack with a tweet that said, "Praying for London."

      With files from CBC, Reuters