Seven people have been killed and at least 48 injured in a London terrorist attack Saturday night – less than two weeks after a suicide bombing in Manchester and one day before a charity concert is slated to take place for the victims of that attack.
Three attackers careened a white van into pedestrians on London Bridge, in the heart of the British capital. The men then pulled knives and got out at the crowded area of Borough Market and attacked victims on the street and at pubs, Commissioner for the Metropolitan Police, Cressida Dick, said in a statement on Sunday. She added that she believed that the situation was currently “under control” but that security measures would still be in place around London Bridge.
The Metropolitan Police also confirmed that they had arrested 12 people in connection to the attack.
Armed police responded within eight minutes and shot and killed all three men at Borough Market. The assailants were wearing what appeared to be fake explosive vests, Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley told reporters.
Witness Halima Madden, 25, tells PEOPLE that she saw one of the assailants get shot by police at Borough Market.
“I heard a gunshot and a man was on the floor,” she said. “[Another woman’s face] just went pale and for a second I was in a bit of shock.”
The attack hit just 12 days after England was rocked by a suicide bombing in Manchester (200 miles north of London) at an Ariana Grande concert. The bomber struck just outside Manchester Arena as concertgoers — many of whom were children and teenagers — were leaving the show. Twenty-two people were killed and 116 injured. The bomber, identified by police as 22-year-old Salman Ramadan Abedi, was also killed in the explosion.
On Sunday, Grande will be joined by a host of other musicians, including Miley Cyrus, Katy Perry and Coldplay, for a charity concert in Manchester to raise money for the victims and their families. Early Sunday, Grande’s manager Scooter Braun confirmed that the concert would go on as planned.
Grande, who is currently in Manchester preparing for the concert, tweeted her support for London on Saturday. “Praying for London,” she wrote.
British Prime Minister Theresa May said the “terrible” incident from London is being treated as a “potential act of terrorism.”
A U.S. law enforcement official tells PEOPLE that a car drove into a crowd of 15 to 20 people near London Bridge.
Witnesses on social media said that there were “bodies strewn over the pavement” after a van jumped the curb.
The police confirmed that incidents at London Bridge and Borough Market were being treated as “terrorist incidents.” However, a third reported incident was determined to not be connected.
Police confirmed that they responded to a report of a “vehicle collision with pedestrians” at London Bridge at 10:08 p.m., as Londoners were out drinking in pubs and eating in restaurants throughout the city.
A video of the aftermath showed ambulances and police cars swarming around an intersection while someone yells, telling people to clear the area.
Another witness says a passerby told him that it was like “Westminster Bridge all over again.” On March 22, a British-born terrorist drove his car onto the pedestrian walkway at Westminster Bridge, killing four people and injuring 50. In that incident, the attack then got out of the car and fatally stabbed a police officer in the chest. The assailant was then shot dead by a member of the Defense Minister’s security detail.
WARNING: Some of these tweets feature strong language
Witness Jamie McDermott tells PEOPLE that he realized something was wrong after a number of police vans passed by them at London Bridge.
“It took the first responders two minutes to get there,” he said. “I saw a stream of 20 ambulances go towards London Bridge.”
Police also confirmed that they were responding to a report of a stabbing Borough Market near London Bridge. They also confirmed that they are responding to an incident at Vauxhall. However, police later stated that the stabbing incident in Vauxhall was determined to not be connected to the other two terrorist incidents.
Simon Thompson told Sky news that there was also gunfire at Borough Market.
“I was just outside Borough Market and I just saw loads of people run away. People were on the floor. Police came and there was a period of quite intense gunfire. I hid in a pub and then there was more gunfire and the police told us to get out.”
London mayor Sadiq Khan called the terrorism attacks “cowardly” and urged residents and visitors of London to stay safe.
The attack took place in an area of London that would normally be packed with people on a Saturday night. London Bridge is also near where Bridget Jones’ Diary was filmed and took place.
Press Secretary Sean Spicer confirmed that President Donald Trump had been briefed about the incident. Trump later pledged on Twitter that the United States would help the U.K. in the wake of the incidents.
- with reporting by ALINA TRABATTONI and PHILIP BOUCHER