London Bridge
People are evacuated from London Bridge in central London following a police incident, Friday, Nov. 29, 2019. Image Credit: AP

Armed British police shot dead a suspected terrorist after an attack sent hundreds of people fleeing in the heart of London on Friday. Several civilians were believed to have been injured in a stabbing just before 2 pm in the London Bridge area on the edge of the capital's financial center, police said.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson broke away from the general election campaign to rush back to his Downing Street offices where he will be briefed on the events. Eight people were killed and 48 injured in an attack on the same part of London in 2017, just days before the election in June of that year.

Two killed in knife attack

Two people were killed on Friday when a knife attacker went on the rampage on London Bridge, the BBC reported, citing unidentified sources.

Police shot dead the man who was wearing a fake suicide vest.

Key developments

Police: London Bridge attack was terrorism (4:24 pm, all London time)

UK police confirmed they had shot dead one male suspect and declared the attack a terrorist incident. "I'm now in a position to confirm that it has been declared a terrorist incident," said Neil Basu, Metropolitan Police assistant commissioner, in a statement outside the London police service's headquarters. "I must stress we retain an open mind as to any motive. It would be inappropriate to speculate further at this time."

He added the police believe the item strapped to the body of the suspect was a hoax explosive device.

A police officer moves an uninvolved person
A police officer moves an uninvolved person away from a cordon after an incident on London Bridge in central London following a police incident. Image Credit: AP

Police ordered diners to flee (4 pm)

The streets around London Bridge were locked down and armed police cleared restaurants and shops in the area. Officers are treating the incident as terror-related "as a precaution," although the circumstances are still unclear, the Metropolitan Police said in a statement.

During the incident on Friday, armed officers burst into restaurants in the Borough Market area at London Bridge and urged diners to leave as fast as possible. They shouted "Out, out, out," to people at the Black and Blue bar. Diners walked away with their hands on their heads. Nearby, police shouted to pedestrians to "run."

Officers closed off the bridge and evacuated passers-by from the surrounding area. On the north bank of the River Thames, police officers shouted to pedestrians to move back from the bridge 100 meters, and then urged them to take shelter in any nearby building, shouting: "Move inside for your own safety."

London Bridge
Police at the scene of an incident on London Bridge in central London. Image Credit: AP

Incident revives memories of 2017 attack (3:45 pm)

The same area of London was the scene of a terrorist attack just a few days before the general election in June 2017 in which eight people were killed and 48 injured. Three terrorists drove a van at pedestrians on the bridge before arming themselves with knives and running into Borough Market, where they stabbed people in restaurants and pubs. Armed police responded and killed the attackers.

Johnson returning to Central London (3:35 pm)

Boris Johnson is returning to his office in central London after police shot a man at London Bridge and a number of people were injured.

"The prime minister is on his way back to No 10 from his constituency where he will receive further updates on the London Bridge incident," Johnson's spokesman James Slack said in a statement.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn also expressed his concern. "Shocking reports from London Bridge. My thoughts are with those caught up in the incident. Thank you to the police and emergency services who are responding," he said on Twitter.

Johnson being kept updated on London incident (3:10 pm)

Boris Johnson said he's being kept informed about the unfolding incident at London Bridge, in which there have been reports of gunshots and stabbings. Police said they are "currently responding to this incident as though it is terror-related."

Armed police locked down the bridge and evacuated the area. The Metropolitan Police said in a statement that after being called to a stabbing at a premises nearby, they had detained one man. A number of people have been injured, they said.

"I'm being kept updated on the incident at London Bridge and want to thank the police and all emergency services for their immediate response," Johnson said on Twitter.

Home Secretary Priti Patel also posted on Twitter, saying she's "very concerned by ongoing incident at London Bridge. My thoughts are with all affected." She urged people to follow the advice of the police. London Mayor Sadiq Khan said he's in "close contact" with the Metropolitan Police Commissioner.