Witnesses of the London Bridge and Borough Market attacks have described the horrific events that unfolded shortly after 10pm on a busy Saturday night.
Those caught up in the attack – many of whom were in central London for dinner, or watching the Champions League final in bars – described scenes of chaos and horror.
At around 10.08pm on Saturday a white van driving at about 50mph struck pedestrians on London Bridge and then continued toward Borough Market. The van continued down Borough High Street where it crashed outside the Barrow Boy & Banker pub.
Three suspects jumped out of the back door, running towards Borough Market stabbing anyone who got in their way and attacking people in bars and restaurants. Witnesses described desperately throwing bottles and chairs at the attackers in an attempt to stop them.
Witnesses report seeing attackers stabbing people along Stoney Street near the restaurants Brindisa, El Pastor, Roast and Black & Blue. Within eight minutes of the first call to emergency services, officers arrived and shot dead three attackers outside the Wheatsheaf pub. The suspects were wearing what looked like explosive vests but these were later established to be fake.
A man called Mark told the BBC he was taking photographs on London Bridge when he saw the van hitting pedestrians on the bridge.
“It was swerving from side to side and I could see it hitting people and there was a group about 20 or 30 yards in front of me. The van hit those people. At that moment I was doing that calculation of trying to work out which direction should I run.”
Will Heaven, a Spectator journalist, was passing the bridge. He told Sky News: “It was about 10 past 10. I was in the back of an Uber cab driving south over London Bridge.
“Suddenly on the left-hand side, on the bridge, there was somebody down on the pavement with a small crowd around them, clearly concerned. I thought someone had collapsed. We drove a little further over the bridge. There was another person in the road itself. The penny dropped that something quite serious was happening.
“The traffic came to a standstill. The Uber driver said something bad is happening here. We could hear sirens coming.
“A driver of a black cab said there has been a terrorist attack. They saw there were numerous people in the road. A second cab driver said there has been a series of stabbings.”
‘A lot of blood and bodies’
A 25-year-old man, who wishes to remain anonymous, told the Guardian he was driving across the bridge when he saw a man and a pregnant woman unconscious on the road.
“We thought it was a car accident but as we got closer we could see a lot of blood and bodies. There was a pregnant woman on the right who was severely injured and on the left there was a man being resuscitated, but he started breathing. We don’t know whether the woman survived,” he said.
“We had to get out of the car and there were lots of people screaming. And then ambulances arrived.”
‘The guy with the knife was killing two people’
It very quickly became clear that the attack was not over. After the attackers abandoned their vehicle outside the Barrow Boy & Banker pub, witnesses described attackers running into pubs and bars around London Bridge, and then Borough Market, stabbing people.
Another witness, Eric, told the BBC: “Three men jumped out of the van and that’s when they started attacking people on the road. As they headed down the stairs, as they were running towards the people, they were shouting, ‘This is for Allah’.
Gerard Vowls, 47, had been watching the Champions League final at the Ship pub in Borough. He was at the start of the south side of London Bridge and saw a woman being stabbed by three men 10 or 15 times.
“She was going, ‘Help me, help me’ and I couldn’t do nothing,” he said. “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.”
Vowls said he was throwing 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.”
It took at least 10 minutes for armed police to reach the scene, he added.
“They literally just started kicking them, punching them, they took out knives. It was a rampage really,” another man told the BBC. The group of attackers headed towards Southwark Cathedral.
“A woman was staring at them, and they started stabbing her,” the witness said. “Throughout the whole way across the bridge, there were people littered across bleeding. People were trying to help each other.”
One witness spoke of seeing one attacker stab his victim “calmly”. Ben was coming up to the entrance of the underground on Borough High Street when they saw people running.
“I saw a man in red with quite a large blade, I don’t know the measurement – I guess maybe 10 inches. He was stabbing a man … he stabbed him about three times fairly calmly.
“It looked [like] the man had maybe been trying to intervene but there wasn’t much that he could do, he was being stabbed quite coldly and he slumped to the ground.
The attacker and another man walked off quite “boldly”.
“A table was thrown, a bottle was thrown at the individual with the knife and then we heard three gunshots and we ran,” he added.
Alex was in the Mudlark pub, close to Southwark Cathedral. “A woman probably in her early 20s staggered into the pub and she was bleeding heavily from the neck and from her mouth. It appeared to myself and to my friends that her throat had been cut,” he said. “People went to her aid. The pub was then closed. We saw police on the roads nearby. As we were told to leave the area by armed police, as we were running away from there, I could see to my left there was a further individual having CPR performed on them by the emergency services.”
Another witness in the Mudlark, 54-year-old Jeff Whitsey, told reporters the woman, aged in her 20s, staggered into the pub, aided by her friends. She was seriously injured.
“It was a very deep cut. There was blood everywhere … blood was spurting out. It was awful. Absolutely awful.”
Bethany Atkin, who works for the Guardian, was at Boro Bistro, a small restaurant which sits under a small bridge on Borough High Street.
“We were sitting outside under umbrellas underneath the bridge and there was a shower of rubble that landed on the umbrellas, a van had crashed into the bridge.
“We stood up, everyone was moving, I saw a man who was bleeding. I don’t know how he was injured. We ran into the restaurant and tried to find a safe place but there wasn’t one.”
Running back outside, Atkin saw another casualty. “We saw a woman with blood, about 20 metres from the bridge. I saw her lying down on the floor.”
Atkin ran into London Bridge hospital to shelter but there was another commotion on the street. “A man was shouting and then everyone started screaming and running away from the man. It was very sinister.”
At the El Pastor tapas restaurant, a man entered with a “foot-long” knife and started stabbing a woman, one witness told Sky News.
People inside were throwing bottles and chairs at the man to try to stop him. “They saw four others also armed with knives outside the restaurant in Borough Market.”
There were also reports of attackers at Roast restaurant.
A chef from Fish restaurant said: “I saw two men with big knives downstairs outside Roast. They were stabbing people. The police were running away, they were normal officers, they were running away.
“The guy with the knife was killing two people. We were shouting ‘stop, stop’ and people threw chairs at them.”
Video from the inside the Wright Brothers Oyster and Porter House restaurant on Stoney Street showed staff shouting at customers to evacuate and directing them to run away from the building down the street.
Jamie, who was in the Black & Blue restaurant further down Stoney Street, said he hid under the tables after hearing “a massive, massive bang”.
“People came into the restaurant and knocked a bunch of stuff over, like the till,” he said. “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.”
Within eight minutes of the first call to emergency services, police officers arrived on the scene and shot dead three attackers outside the Wheatsheaf pub. The suspects were wearing what appeared to be explosive vests but these were later established to be fake.
Gabriele Sciotto, who took the photograph of the bodies, told the BBC: “I ran towards the scene, noticed these men with explosive looking belts on their chests.
“They were running and police officers were trying to put themselves between the men and the crowd. Police ran towards them, more police came, and in a few seconds after a radio call, they shot three men down.
“The canisters didn’t look real, they looked like toys, I wasn’t too scared.
“I was simply in a bar watching the football, I was looking for the truth of this situation. You don’t realise how scary these situations can be. A policeman could have shot me I was very close.”
Owen Evans, 39, was in the Wheatsheaf pub nearby on Stoney Street with friends when he heard shots.
“I was in the back of the pub. A wave of about 30 people ran in and tried to get into the cellar or cupboard. Then there were shots outside. They didn’t seem real – like a kid letting off firecrackers. We saw police lights and everyone got down under a table. People turned tables over.
“We waited about 10 minutes or so, with several shots every couple of minutes. Someone at the front of the pub had been shot – it’s speculation but we thought it was by accident, there were bullet holes in the windows. The people near the person called for a medic, shouting: ‘He’s fucking bleeding to death, we need a doctor.’ The bar staff were amazing, I think they locked the door so no one got in.
“Then they told us to leave the pub and to run, and a policeman standing outside with a gun was shouting, ‘Go, get the fuck out.’ We ran down the street, turned left at the Market Porter, then ran down the road and away. We got to the South Bank and then waited ages for a tube, and eventually got home.”
Liam, who was in a flat above Southwark Tavern next to London Bridge, told BBC Radio 5 Live he heard screaming and saw people running down into the underground, running in any direction they could. “The restaurant opposite had been completely smashed up, and a crowd of people were pointing into the market saying ‘he’s down there’,” he said.
“They got the attention of what looked like an armed police car, and pointed down Borough Market. The car screeched in that direction and we heard what sounded like five or six very loud gunshots.”
Videos show police going into bars soon after the attack telling people to remain on the floor. Police boats also searched the river – apparently looking for people who may have been thrown off the bridge.
Following the shooting of the three attackers, police cordoned off the area and witnesses described hearing four controlled explosion carried out by police in the London Bridge area beginning at 1.23am.