Pedestrians walk past newly erected barriers separating the road from the pavement on Westminster Bridge following an attack which left 7 people dead and dozens of injured in central London, Britain, June 5, 2017. REUTERS/Estelle Shirbon
After militants killed seven people and injured 48 in London, British Prime Minister Theresa May resumes campaigning on Monday just three days before a national election which polls show is much tighter than previously predicted.
May said Britain must be tougher in stamping out Islamist extremism after three knife-wielding assailants rammed a van into pedestrians on London Bridge and stabbed others nearby.
Following the third militant attack in Britain in less than three months, May said Thursday’s election would go ahead and that Britain had been far too tolerant of extremism.
“Violence can never be allowed to disrupt the democratic process,” May, who served as interior minister from 2010 to 2016, said outside her Downing Street office on Sunday.
Islamic State, which is losing territory in Syria and Iraq to an offensive backed by a U.S.-led coalition, said its militants were responsible for the attack, though it is unclear what links the attackers had to the group.
London police chief Cressida Dick said that while some of the recent attacks in Britain had international links, they had a largely domestic center of gravity.
May said the three recent attacks, which have claimed at least 34 lives, are not thought to be connected.
But she said Britain was under threat from a new breed of crude copycat militants who might not have spent years plotting or even been radicalized online.
Deadly attacks by Islamist militants in Paris, Nice, Brussels, Berlin, Manchester and London over recent years have shocked Europeans already anxious over security challenges from mass immigration and pockets of domestic Islamist radicalism.
In an early morning raids in east London, British counter-terrorism police detained more people on Monday. Police arrested 12 people in the Barking district of east London following the attack, though one was later released.
Police have not released the names of the attackers and British newspapers refrained from identifying the men.
“This has been a truly ghastly few weeks,” said London police chief Dick, who said the spell of recent attacks was unprecedented in her working experience which began in 1983.
May was due to chair a meeting of the government’s emergency response committee on Monday.
SHADOW OF ATTACKS
It was not immediately clear how the attack would impact the election, though the issue of security has been thrust to the forefront of the campaign after the London Bridge and Manchester attacks.
The campaign was suspended for several days last month when a suicide bomber killed 22 people at a concert by U.S. pop singer Ariana Grande in Manchester.
Grande gave an emotional performance on Sunday at a benefit gig in the city for the victims of the attack, singing with a choir of local schoolchildren, including some who had been at her show.
Before the London Bridge attack, May’s gamble on a June 8 snap election had been thrust into doubt after polls showed her Conservative Party’s lead had collapsed in recent weeks.