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Desperate families plead for information on 'missing' loved ones after London terror attacks

Mirror logo Mirror 4/06/2017 Sophie Evans

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Desperate family and friends are appealing for information on their loved ones after the London terror attacks.

A van mounted the pavement before ploughing into pedestrians at high speed on London Bridge on Saturday night.

Attackers then stabbed people in the nearby Borough Market area of bars and restaurants, according to witnesses.

Six people are dead following the incidents, which came less than two weeks after the Manchester Arena bombing.

At least 20 others have been injured.

In the hours after the attacks, people were taking to social media to plead for information about their loved ones' whereabouts.

Kezi Alam posted a picture of her niece, Asya Mustafa, on Facebook, asking her friends to keep her in their prayers.

She wrote: "My niece Asya Mustafa was on route home to london bridge and we haven't heard from her.

"Please keep her in your prayers and if anyone has seen or spoken to her and knows she is ok let us know."

At around 2.30am, she added: "There is no update. We are in touch with the police and praying she is okay."

Another relative, Tijen Mustafa, added: "I pray my neice comes home safe..remaining calm is so difficult..police ringing us every hour..they have no news and neither have we..they say stay calm... (sic)

"Asya please come home."

Meanwhile, a search is under way for journalist Geoff Ho, who was reportedly stabbed at Southwark Tavern during the attacks.

Geoff, a business editor with the Sunday Express, is believed to have been taken to hospital via ambulance.

His friends say he is "missing" in the wake of the stabbing.

One woman tweeted: "I need to know if Geoff Ho is ok if anyone can help. Stabbed at Southwark Tavern.

"Last seen in an ambulance."

Another said: "MISSING - Geoff Ho, stabbed at Southwark Tavern, taken in Ambulance."

It comes after a photo emerged showing a man with a cannister apparently strapped to his chest lying on the ground.

© Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc

The male, believed to be a suspect in terror attacks, was photographed shortly after the van mowed down pedestrians on London Bridge.

The image shows him the foreground lying on his back outside the Wheatsheaf Pub while another male can be seen in the background.

Both appear to be wearing camouflage gear.

After white van mowed down bystanders, a gang of 'knife-wielding' men reportedly got out and stabbed people.

Witnesses claimed between three and five men entered a restaurant just south of The Thames and started knifing people - slashing their throats, faces and stomachs during the horrifying attack.

Terrified customers ran for their lives, hiding behind tables and chairs and in basements as some hurled bottles at the attackers and staff tried to lock the doors, it was claimed.

Meanwhile, witnesses to the London Bridge attack reported seeing bodies strewn on the ground.

Police reportedly shot dead two of the attackers but have been unable to confirm all the terrorists are accounted for.

Central London was in chaos as Metropolitan Police confirmed a third reported incident at Vauxhall before later saying this was an unconnected stabbing.

However, police said the London Bridge and Borough Market incidents were "declared as terrorist incidents" and confirmed shots had been fired.

Police confirmed there have been multiple fatalities and there are reports of at least one man arrested.

Metropolitan Police said: "From 2208hrs officers responded to reports of a vehicle in collision with pedestrians on London Bridge.

"Officers have then responded to reports of stabbings in BoroughMarket.

"Armed officers responded and shots have been fired."

At 2.40am, London Ambulance Service said at least 20 people were taken to six hospitals across London.

"We have also treated a number of people at the scene for less serious injuries," the LAS said.

"We have declared a major incident."

Ahead of a COBRA meeting of government officials in the meeting, Prime Minister Theresa May said has said that the "terrible incident" in London was being treated as a "potential act of terrorism".

The incident comes just two months after a terrorist mowed down pedestrians at Westminster Bridge before stabbing an unarmed cop. Five victims were killed in the attack.

A Downing Street spokesman said: "The Prime Minister is in contact with officials and is being regularly updated on the incident at London Bridge."

British Transport Police said there were reports of "multiple" casualties following the major incident on the bridge.

Nick Brandon of the BTP's force control room said he had received reports of an incident possibly involving a knife and a vehicle.

The seriousness of the injuries is not yet known, he said.

London Bridge and Borough tube stations were closed while there were also reported closures at Monument and Bank where armed police were seen in large numbers.

There have been claims from witnesses men had 12 inch hunting knives.

Credits: REUTERS

Credits: REUTERS
© Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc

Holly Jones, a BBC reporter at the bridge when the incident happened, said a van had swerved off the road into a crowd of pedestrians.

"A white van driver came speeding - probably about 50mph - veered of the road into the crowds of people who were walking along the pavement," she told BBC News.

"He swerved right round me and then hit about five or six people. He hit about two people in front of me and then three behind.

"I'd say there are about four severely injured people.

"They all have paramedics assisting them at the moment."

Separate reports said The Shard, which is in London Bridge, was also in lockdown.

Witnesses have reported people running into restaurants at Borough Market and been locked in basements.

A witness told BBC News that the attackers shouted "this is for Allah" as they jumped out of the van and began the stabbings.

Footage from a venue shows police storming the venue as customers crouch behind chairs and tables.

Officers can be seen yelling "get down".

Jamie, a witness who was in a restaurant on Rochester Walk near London Bridge, told the Press Association: "We were in the Black and Blue restaurant, we heard a fight and everyone got up and everyone rushed out of the restaurant and we heard a massive, massive bang.

"Then we hid under the table and people came into the restaurant and knocked a bunch of stuff over, like the till.

Credits: Twitter/indykaila

Credits: Twitter/indykaila
© Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc

"And then we ran into the restaurant into the kitchen, where there was a bunch of other people and a guy had been stabbed and he was cut and he was bleeding quite a lot."

He added that they waited in the kitchen for "quite a while" before they were evacuated.

A female companion said: "We were in the restaurant and we just saw three guys come into the restaurant, stabbed someone in the face and someone in the stomach.

"One of them had a big knife, then he came in and walked around the restaurant, I guess they just kind of stabbed anyone that they saw and knocked things on the ground and then we just hid."

Another witness in the London Bridge area, Thomas Daly, was watching the Champions League final in The Sheaf when he saw security people running outside towards the entrance.

He tried to leave when the match finished but found the doors were closed and they were unable to leave.

The 36-year-old, from Liverpool, said: "People were saying there had been a stabbing at Borough Market and they locked us in.

"We sat down again and some minutes later people started coming into the bar and people were getting a bit hysterical.

Credits: PA

Credits: PA
© Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc

"A lot of people were streaming through the rear exit and we went outside and heard gunshots.

"I heard gunshots, at least two gunshots, and at that point the people who were trying to get out the back entrance came back inside.

"We went outside to the back, there was the gunfire and then we decided to come back in again."

Armed police then came into the bar and evacuated people, he added.

As the Mirror's Geraldine McKelvie reports, retired bankers Jacky and David Dickson were having dinner at Applebees fish restaurant when the incident unfolded at Borough Market.

The pair were on holiday in the UK having moved to Burlington, Canada, 40 years ago.

Jacky said: "We were just about to pay our bill when a young girl came haring in and said there was a man with a machete outside.

"The staff rushed everybody upstairs. There were about 35 of us in an airless room for about an hour and a half.

"We had no idea what was going to happen.

"We were all trying to be positive but we were absolutely terrified. We tried to stay down as there was a small area where a gunman could have shot through.

"Then, we heard gunshots. There was a bit of a lull then more.

"Then, the police came and told us to run downstairs with our hands on our heads.

"I think there were bodies but I chose not to look. What a wicked world this is for my grandchildren to grow up in."

The terrorists were reportedly wearing stab-proof vests and had metal canisters strapped to their chests when they stormed the restaurant, The Sun reported.

The website said two explosions, believed to police conducting controlled explosions, were heard outside its office in London Bridge just before 1.30am.

A third and fourth explosion was also heard at the nearby The Shard.

US President Donald Trump tweeted: "Whatever the United States can do to help out in London and the U. K., we will be there - WE ARE WITH YOU. GOD BLESS!"

Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn tweeted: "Brutal and shocking incidents reported in London.

"My thoughts are with the victims and their families.

"Thank you to the emergency services."

Brad Myers tweeted a selfie he said he had taken on London Bridge at 9.59pm.

"I took this selfie at 9:59 PM, in the exact spot where the truck / van came through a few minutes later," he tweeted.

Saying police arrived within three minutes, he tweeted another photo of the scene at 10.10pm, showing bodies on the bridge in the distance.

© Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc

The Met urged people in the three affected areas to run, hide and call the police.

It tweeted that people must "RUN - to a place of safety. This is a better option than to surrender or negotiate. If there's nowhere to go then...

"HIDE - turn your phone to silent and turn off vibrate. Barricade yourself in if you can.

"TELL - the police by calling 999 when it is safe to do so."

A voice in a Facebook live video believed to be a police officer as authorities cleared the area can be heard saying: "Please leave the area. It's not something to be recorded.

"People have died."

Traumatised survivors were being sheltered at The Royal Oak pub near Borough station.

Many were in tears and one young man was so distressed he vomited.

Some had been evacuated from nearby hotels, such at the Premier Inn.

Big hearted Londoners arrived in their droves to offer blankets and bottles of water.

Employee Robert Burgen, 60, said: "All I heard was screaming as people were being told to run.

"We tried to get the kids off the road in case something else was about to happen.

"The street next to us has been cordoned off.

"Like always, the majority of people in London are coming together and doing what they can."

Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation hospital said it was "on lockdown" to keep patients, relatives and staff safe after the attacks.

The Metropolitan Police has opened a casualty bureau for anyone concerned about friends or relatives who may be affected on 0800 096 1233 and 020 7158 0197.

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