Return to Transcripts main page


Police Say That Several People Have Been Injured In A Stabbing Incident Near London Bridge; Police Addresses Media Regarding London Bridge Incident. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired November 29, 2019 - 11:00   ET


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Alex Marquardt, in for Kate Baldwin. Today I want to welcome our viewers from the United States and around the world. We're starting with breaking news out of London.

Police say that several people have been injured in a stabbing incident near London Bridge. I want to warn you that the video of the incident we're about to show you is graphic.

Now, you can see in this video, a man on the bridge right there holding a knife. Then you can hear gunshots fired by the police. Police say that they are treating this as a terror related incident, and they say one man has been detained. Nearby stores and railway stations are on lockdown, the situation very fluid, developing by the minute.

We're standing by for a press conference any minute now from Scotland Yard -- that is the London Metropolitan Police Headquarters.

But first we're going to go to our Nick Paton Walsh. He is on the scene with the latest. Nick, what do we know at this time?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Minimal confirmed information, Alex. But what we do know is this incident seems to have started before 1:58 or so in the afternoon, a busy time certainly in this packed central part of London.

Police were called to an establishment, premises, they say during which there was a stabbing and it appears as a result of that, that a number of people have been stabbed and one man has been shot. We believe the person who has been shot may in fact have been the assailant that you've seen in some of those graphic videos.

What is not clear at this point is the cause of the argument. As you said yourself, Scotland Yard British Police here are saying that they are treating this as though it is terror-related, but they do say also that the circumstances remain unclear.

It is important to remember as this develops here because in London, there are lots of other reasons why a stabbing may occur -- gang violence, namely in particular. Let me just remind you the scene we're seeing around us here. I am

far away from the north of London Bridge here, a couple of blocks really from the streets here and the scene behind me is what you would normally expect frankly to see of an instant this nature in the British capital.

A vast amount of police resources is pulling up into here. A dozen or also vehicles have been blaring their way through this tape behind me here.

We've not seen emergency services departing in a hurry which may suggest that perhaps this instance to some degree is under control. But I should point out, about 50 minutes or so ago, essentially the top law enforcement official in the United Kingdom, Priti Patel, the Home Secretary on Twitter referred to this incident as ongoing.

So we simply don't know if that one assailant silence who appears to have been shot was the only assailant. We don't know the cause of this argument.

We hear eyewitnesses referring to how there appears to be an initial panic and then some degree of a pause, about 20 minutes or so, one man inside a hamburger restaurant like everybody else told to hide beneath the tables as this unfolded, and of course, anybody here in Central London, London Bridge, given the tragic, awful history of the 2017 terror attacks here would immediately have been on their guard and of course, hearing gunshots in Central London, frankly unheard of.

A city in this part, to some degree in lock down here and as I say, we are seeing continued emergency services pull up behind me here now.

We just heard from the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, who has again referred to this as most likely being terror-related thanked the emergency services. But it does appear from some of the social media videos of something of a swift response from British Police who sadly over the past two years have become worryingly practiced in dealing with events like this.

Well, I should say, the circumstances, they say are still unclear as to how this unfurled. But certainly, around about two o'clock today, they were called to a premises here where stabbings appear to have occurred.

They've now just confirmed in the last 10 minutes that a number of people have been stabbed and one man has been shot, but still the situation still unfurling. And around me here now, even as we speak this instance, a matter of hours old, people still being moved away from parts of the buildings, even a couple of streets from London Bridge, the south of which we believe is where this instance was predominantly focused -- Alex.

MARQUARDT: Yes, as you say, Nick, the London Metropolitan Police, well-practiced. It has been relatively quiet of late after a string of incidents in 2016. Today's incident, of course, shattering all of that. Nick Payton Walsh on the scene there. We will come back to you soon,

but I want to go to Max Foster who is joining me now from our London Bureau.

Max, as we've noted, we are waiting on a press conference from Scotland Yard, from the London Metropolitan Police. Given what we have heard from them today, which is not a lot of detail, I'm wondering what you can read between the lines when they say that as a precaution, they are treating this as a terror related incident.

And then from the London Ambulance Services saying -- calling this a major incident. They are not trying to tamp this down, are they?

MAX FOSTER, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Well, now, the ambulance service, obviously, if a number of people are stabbed and someone has been killed, then that is a major incident.

What the police will be looking at is containing the incident of course, but also trying to look for the motive here and we have to consider the language, so when I've spoken to anti-terror police quite recently, their response when there is an incident, which looks serious is to overreact and treat it as a terror-related incident before they've got it confirmed.

So if we look at the language, they're saying they're treating it as terror related as a precaution. What they're not saying is they have evidence that it is terror-related. So that's what we're looking at from this press conference. Can the police confirm this is terror- related?


FOSTER: On the Bridges, Alex, you know, this area well, after the last instance in 2017, which had a car involved, they put these big concrete bollards along a lot of the major bridges to avoid that happening again. A car wasn't involved, it doesn't seem this time, but it does show that just with a knife, you can cause a huge amount of damage.

So is it someone who had some sort of personal grievance or is it someone part of a wider network? This is are the sort of questions we're looking to this press conference for.

MARQUARDT: Max, I want to play the video of this incident. Again, I want to remind our viewers that this is graphic. This was shot by a passerby on London Bridge as the assailant was taken down by police.

There it is right on London Bridge. And what you're seeing is the London Police -- we're going to listen in to the London Police.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, he has a knife.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He has a knife.



MARQUARDT: All right, well we are still waiting for a press conference from the London Police. That there is the incident that unfolded just hours ago on London Bridge. The police taking down a man, shooting him and taking him into custody.

We do understand from the London Metropolitan Police that several people were injured and stabbed. Now, I want to bring in my panel of experts, some very well versed people when it comes to these types of incidents: Paul Cruickshank, Kim Dozier, Peter Bergen and Susan Glasser.

Paul, first to you, your reaction when you see the types of reaction -- the law enforcement reaction there and what the police are saying?

PAUL CRUICKSHANK, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: Well, they're very concerned. They are treating it as if it was a terrorist attack. They haven't confirmed it was a terrorist attack. But we just saw that video play out. Police at a sudden moment shooting somebody who is on the ground, why would police shoot somebody who is on the ground perhaps after their weapon has been taken away?

Well, you know, that's not something that would normally happen. There must have been something that really concerned them about what he has. Could it have been something like a suicide vest or a fake suicide vest? We saw on that bridge, on that area in 2017, in the month of June, a group of three individuals, ISIS-inspired terrorists drive a car into people and then stab people. They were wearing fake suicide vests. They were then shot by police.

So a lot of the hallmarks of a potential terrorist attack here, but that has not been confirmed so far by British authorities.

MARQUARDT: You don't often hear about gunshots being fired in central London, they simply don't have that many guns over there. But in the wake of the spate of terror attacks that we saw in Europe, the London security forces, the police really did beef up.

And there are I understand, quick response teams across London for this kind of thing, because we understand that according to an eyewitness, the police arrived within moments.

CRUICKSHANK: That's right. And in many terrorist attacks, most of the people are killed in the first few minutes. And so there's a real impetus to get people on the ground very, very quickly. The last time there was an attack in this area, I think it was something like eight minutes for police to respond. Their police very, very nearby because they're very concerned that they don't want to have play out what played out in Paris in 2015, by a gunman on the rampage through the city, killing a lot of people.

The quicker you can respond, you can keep the casualty count down.

MARQUARDT: Peter Bergen, we don't want to jump to conclusions. We never want to immediately assume that something is terror related. But the London Police themselves are saying that as a precaution, they are treating it as terror. Does it look like that to you?

PETER BERGEN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, I mean, I'd make a slightly different point, which is three weeks ago, the British authorities lowered the terrorism warning in in the country from severe to substantial.

And if indeed, this is terrorism, which we don't know, that's going to be hard to explain why they would lower it to the lowest point it has been since August of 2014.

Severe, you know, substantial still means that there is a -- you know, somewhat high likelihood of an attack, but severe means that an attack is very likely.

So I think that in the wake of this, we may see some soul searching amongst the authorities on this issue.

MARQUARDT: Kim Dozier, we do -- not to split hairs, but we do have to differentiate between a coordinated terror attack that was perhaps long in the making versus a so called lone wolf attack, the likes of which we have seen quite a few of in Europe.


KIMBERLY DOZIER, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Absolutely. Look at this point, it could be, there's an outside chance that this could be as it was initially reported some sort of gang-related violence that was mistaken as terrorism.

That said, Britain might have lowered its warning level, but across Europe and I just got back from talking to officials in Turkey, they have been waiting and watching for an ISIS comeback attack, especially as we approach the holidays. I don't know if Black Friday counts as a holiday, but the fact of the matter is, after the fall of DAISH, everyone has been waiting for the other shoe to drop. When are they going to declare, we're not gone despite your declarations otherwise.

MARQUARDT: Well, this is a very fluid situation. We're going to take a quick break. We are waiting for the London police to give a press conference. We'll be right back with more.



MARQUARDT: We are standing by for a news conference from the Metropolitan Police in London any minute now. Police there are saying that several people have been injured in a stabbing near London Bridge.

Watch this video of how it happened.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, he has a knife.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He has a knife.





MARQUARDT: And we have just gotten more video of this incident in from another vantage point. Take a look



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's the police.


MARQUARDT: From those eyewitness videos, you can hear very clearly someone saying, he has a knife and then hear those shots fired by the London Metropolitan Police.

I want to go to CNN's Nina dos Santos. She joins us live on the phone from near the scene. Nina, what are you seeing there? What are you hearing about the latest?

NINA DOS SANTOS, CNN EUROPE EDITOR (via telephone): Hi, Alex, so I am about 200 to 300 yards away from the actual scene of the incident where that individual was taken down. This is the closest vantage point if you get to London Bridge on the south side of the River Thames.

On the left, you have a very busy train station and a subway station. This is a major thoroughfare to the south parts of London. That is closed. London Bridge Station on the right hand side, you also have a significant number of high-rise office buildings and that is where you have seen a lot of the commotion at the moment.

There are police officers working with the medical security guards from these buildings to escort people out of these offices safely because, of course, the workday is finished. Many of these buildings have been in lock down for the best part of the last two hours.

I've been here on the scene since about 45 minutes after this incident took place, and I can tell you that we've had a steady progression of marked and unmarked police vehicles, ambulances, a helicopter has been overhead for the best part of the last two or three hours.

And further down London Bridge, over this, you will have been able to see in those videos that you both have viewed just moments ago, you can see that jackknifed van, the truck, the lorry further in the distance. And of course, a number of police cars, obviously, on the scene where that individual who allegedly had a knife was allegedly shot -- Alex.

MARQUARDT: Nina dos Santos there on the scene. We'll get back to you very shortly. I want to bring my panel back and Nic Robertson, senior diplomatic editor has just joined us.

Nic, first your impressions when you look at this video.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: I see the similarities of the attack at London Bridge just over two years ago in the summer of 2017. The similarities that I see are the attackers using a knife.

According to one eyewitness, this is a large knife. The attackers back then use knives. London Bridge was the venue. London bridges the venue again.

Last time, it was just a week or so away from a national general election and it is again, in the U.K. just days away, less than two weeks now from a national general election. So those are some of the similarities.

We're approaching Christmas. This strikes me as well. You know, Black Friday for so many people marks the beginning of buying for Christmas, if you will. And that would be a moment when you would expect a radical Islamist group who have threatened in the past to attack during this period in capitals to do that sort of thing. We don't know that that's what -- that is at this stage.


ROBERTSON: There are other things that concern me about this but that's what I want to go for now.

MARQUARDT: Nic Robertson, lucky to have you here in Washington, but normally you are based in London. Can you just quickly set the scene for us, this taking place just before 2:00 p.m. local time on what looks like a nice Friday afternoon?

ROBERTSON: It would have been busy. I think that London has really settled down over the past couple of years. That the last the attack has sort of receded a little bit in people's perceptions.

As Peter, you were saying, before the threat level has been reduced across the U.K., but that would give people a greater sense of ease as they go about their daily business and about shopping, particularly in the run up to Christmas.

It is a popular area. People will go down there for lunches. It is very close to the business district. You will find a lot of people going down just across the bridge to Borough Market for lunch. So there would be a lot of people there.

This is not what people would be expecting. It's not like a couple of years ago where there had been a number of attacks and people were sort of a little bit on tenterhooks. It's not like that. So this will have come out of the blue. And I think as well, we see so many police on the scene so quickly.

There was a sense that last time, 2017, they were slightly lucky that there were in some offices, fast response officers armed, who were in the facility at the time.

This time, the police seem to have swarmed very quickly and very effectively.

MARQUARDT: All right. Well, there's much more to discuss and much more to break down. We are still waiting on a press conference from Scotland Yard from the London Metropolitan Police. We're going to take a quick break. We'll have much more after this.


NEIL BASU, ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER, METROPOLITAN POLICE: Today, Friday, the 29th of November. Police were called to a stabbing at a premises near to London Bridge, EC1. Emergency Services attended including officers from the City of London Police and the Metropolitan Police.

A male suspect was shot by Specialist Armed Officers from the City of London Police and I can confirm that this suspect died at the scene.

A number of other people received injuries during this incident. As soon as we can provide further updates on their condition, we will; and our heartfelt sympathies go out to everybody who has been involved in this and is anxiously waiting for information on their loved ones. As soon as we can get that information, we will get it to you.

As you would expect due to the nature of the incident, we responded as though this was terrorist related. I'm now in a position to confirm that it has been declared a terrorist incident.

We are working jointly with the City of London Police as we continue to respond. Officers from the Met Counterterrorism Command are now leading this investigation. But I must stress, we retain an open mind as to any motive. It would be inappropriate to speculate further at this time.

Due to reports that the suspect may have had an explosive device, specialist officers also attended the scene and wide cordons are in place to ensure there remains no further danger to the public.

However, I can confirm at this time, we believe a device that was strapped to the body of the suspect is a hoax explosive device.


BASU: Officers continue to carry out meticulous searches in the area to ensure there is no outstanding threat to the public. Those extensive cordons will remain in place for a considerable time. And I would ask the public, please, continue to avoid the area.

Public Safety is obviously our top priority. We will be enhancing police patrols both in the city and across London. I would ask anyone with information, image or footage of the incident that can be shared with our investigation team to do so on the U.K. Police Image Appeal website.

I would also ask the public to continue to remain vigilant and report any concerns that they have to the police. I know I would ordinarily take questions. I'm not going to take questions at this time. The Prime Minister has asked for a personal briefing, and I'll be heading with the Commissioner of the Met to Downing Street immediately. Thank you for your patience. We will update you again when we can.

MARQUARDT: All right, the Assistant Commissioner for the London Metropolitan Police there briefing reporters, giving us the latest on this incident on London Bridge, saying that one male suspect was shot and killed by the police, adding that the suspect had what he called a hoax explosive device on his person.

I want to go straight back to Paul Cruickshank, your reaction to what we just heard from the Assistant Commissioner.

CRUICKSHANK: Well, that was the scenario I was laying out for you just a few minutes ago. Why would the police shoot a man on the ground? One of the scenarios was that he had some kind of device. It turns out he had a hoax device.

We've seen that before in terrorist attacks. We saw that on this same bridge in June 2017, that attack on London Bridge and Borough Market, three terrorists involved in that gun and vehicle -- sorry, knife and vehicle attack and they were wearing fake suicide vests and they were shot to death by police. Why would you wear a fake suicide vest?

One of the possible reasons is because you want to be killed in the attack. You don't want to survive the attack.

And from the jihadi point of view, and we do not have confirmation, this was a jihadi attack, but from the jihadi point of view, they're trying to get martyrdom in these kind of attacks.


CRUICKSHANK: But the police are saying they're keeping -- they're not confirming what the motive was, at this point, not confirming it was a jihadi terrorist attack.

MARQUARDT: But Peter Bergen, they are not confirming it was it was Islamist or jihadist, but they are saying now definitively that this was a terror incident.

BERGEN: Yes, and I think it's going to make it hard for the authorities to justify just three weeks ago, lowering the warning from severe to substantial, because clearly this is a terrorist attack. That happened almost immediately after them lowering this -- lowering the alert.

But you know, zooming back a little bit, I mean, Nic was mentioning, we haven't seen a lot of this recently. And you know, the bloom is off the ISIS's rose. I mean, no one -- no one is joining the losing team. And we used to have, you know, 1,500 Frenchmen join ISIS and hundreds of people from Britain and Germany and Belgium. That flow is really halted and it had come close to zero.

So we're going to continue to see these kinds of things. We saw that in Manhattan, an Uzbek-American citizen, called Saipov killed eight people on a bike path, as ISIS was collapsing, as the City of Raqqa was falling.

So the fact that the Caliphate is gone, it doesn't mean ISIS inspirational attacks won't continue to happen. But it does mean that this is just a much less exciting brand.

MARQUARDT: Kim Dozier, can you speak a little bit more to that and is what Peter was talking about, the lowering of this terror level, is that a reflection and you speak with our national security sources all the time of a growing confidence that ISIS is less of a threat than it once was?

DOZIER: I think it might have been part of trying to message to the British Public that we've made progress on this fight, and also lessening the power of ISIS. But when you have something like this, where just the fact that they were wearing suicide vest type things, apparently, and the public was getting to see that that in and of itself spreads the terror.

Is ISIS going to be as deadly as before? Perhaps not. But it's going to continue to inspire small groups of people to raise the banner and say, we're not happy with the way the Western world is running things and we will give our lives in this violence.

MARQUARDT: Nic Robertson, the Assistant Commissioner there saying that he was going to give the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson a personal briefing, not take any questions, but making clear they don't see this incident yes, as being over. The cordon is remaining in place. They have asked people to stay away and that searches are ongoing.

ROBERTSON: Well, it's going to be very important for the Prime Minister to be seen to be leading this because there will be questions raised about what did the police, what are the Intelligence Services know about this attack?

Significantly the last attack, they were aware of the leader of that group.