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Outrage, solidarity over cowardly attacks

Police officers and members of the emergency services attend to a person injured in an apparent terror attack on London Bridge in central London on June 3. Armed police fired shots after reports of stabbings and a van hitting pedestrians on London Bridge on Saturday in an incident reminiscent of a terror attack in March just days ahead of a general election. (AFP)

PARIS, June 4, (AFP): British and world leaders condemned the London attack Sunday, reacting with both outrage and solidarity, as Pope Francis urged believers in St Peter’s square to pray for the victims. Britain London Mayor Sadiq Khan said the attack was “a deliberate and cowardly attack on innocent Londoners and visitors to our city enjoying their Saturday night,” adding: “There is no justification whatsoever for such barbaric acts”.

Prime Minister Theresa May confirmed that the “terrible incident in London” was being treated as “a potential act of terrorism” and said she would hold emergency ministerial talks later in the day.

Andy Burnham, newly elected mayor of Manchester — where a suicide bomber killed 22 people on May 22 at a concert by US singer Ariana Grande — said: “Terrorism will not break us.”

Opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn: “Brutal and shocking incidents reported in London. My thoughts are with the victims and their families. Thank you to the emergency services.”

Scottish Nationalist Party leader Nicola Sturgeon: “Dreadful news from London. My thoughts are with all those affected.” Germany Chancellor

Angela Merkel: “Today we are united across borders in horror and mourning, but also in determination,” she said in a statement. “For Germany, I reiterate that in the fight against all forms of terrorism, we are resolutely at Britain’s side”.

US President Donald Trump: “Whatever the United States can do to help out in London and the UK, we will be there — We Are With You. God Bless!” State department called the assaults “cowardly attacks targeting innocent civilians” and added: “The United States stands ready to provide any assistance authorities in the United Kingdom may request.”

Ariana Grande, who was to be joined by stars including Justin Bieber and Katy Perry at a benefit show in Manchester Sunday night less than 24 hours after the London attack, tweeted simply: “Praying for London.”

Russia President Vladimir Putin “expresses his profound condolences for the British people and condemns the terrorist attack carried out hours ago in London,”

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Russian news agencies.

Turkey Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said: “Baghdad, Kabul and now London. We condemn terror wherever it happens. We shall defeat terror by a joint fight.”

In a separate statement, the foreign ministry said: “We will continue to give all kinds of support in the fight against terror to the United Kingdom.” European Union European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker, in letter to British Prime Minister Theresa May: “I know that the people of London will carry on defiantly, just like the people of Manchester showed us such a short time ago. The European Union, its Member States and its allies around the world will stand with them in solidarity.” France President Emmanuel Macron: “In the face of this new tragedy, France is more than ever at Britain’s side. My thoughts go out to the victims and their loved ones.”

Canada Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, during a reception with parliamentary press, said: “Canadians stand united in sending our love and support to our friends in London.” Arab League Arab League chief Ahmed Aboul Gheit called for “immediate and strong action from the international community” in order “to break the forces of terrorism and extremism” which “represent one of the biggest challenges the contemporary world faces”.

The Netherlands Prime Minister Mark Rutte: “London is in mourning, once again, after a cowardly attack. And we are in mourning with her. Our thoughts and our heart are with the victims and their families”. The Vatican Pope Francis: “May the Holy Spirit bring peace to the whole world, cure it of the plagues of war and terrorism, which even last night in London has struck innocent civilians. “Let us pray for the victims and those close to them.”

Italy Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni: “In memory of the victims and the injured, we stand together in a shared commitment to combatting terrorism. “You are not alone,” Foreign Minister Angelino Alfano said. Australia Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull: “Prayers and resolute solidarity are today as always with the people of Britain in the face of the shocking terrorist attacks in London.” New Zealand Prime Minister Bill English: “New Zealand’s thoughts are with the victims of today’s attack, along with their families and friends. Our hearts go out to you. Too many lives are being taken by terrorists set on infl icting pain and suffering on innocent people.”

Meanwhile, as three assailants sought to strike fear at the heart of the British capital on Saturday night, some Londoners showed incredible courage and fought back. Taxi driver Chris was on London Bridge as the attackers smashed their van into pedestrians around 10:00 pm (2100 GMT) before sprinting, armed with knives, towards nearby bars packed with revellers. “I saw a young girl being stabbed in the chest,” he told LBC radio, recalling how the three “went randomly along Borough High Street stabbing people”. “I said to the guy in my cab I was going to try to hit him, I was going to ram him. I turned around and tried, but he side-stepped me,” he added.

The attack took place a few minutes after the end of the Champions League final between Real Madrid and Juventus and many fans were watching the football on television in some of the trendy area’s bars. Gerard Vowls, 47, was heading home after watching the football at the Ship Pub in Borough when he saw a woman being stabbed 10 to 15 times. “She was going, ‘Help me, help me’ and I couldn’t do nothing,” he told the Guardian newspaper. Distraught, he followed the attackers to Borough Market — a food market that dates back centuries and is housed in an elegant 19th century structure — and started throwing whatever he could find at them including chairs, glasses and bottles. “I know it was a silly thing to do but I was trying to save people’s lives,” he said. He said the attackers chased him after he managed to hit one of them in the back with a chair. “I knew if I slipped over I’d be a dead man, I’d be killed there and then,” he added. Seven people were killed and nearly 50 more were injured in the rampage.

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