Logo
07th-Jun-2017

Britain falls silent to honour London terror victims ahead of vote

By AFP, London


Britain will hold a minute's silence for the victims of the London terror attack on Tuesday, just two days before a general election, as questions mount over an assailant who was known to MI5.
With flags flying at half mast, Britain will fall silent as clocks strike 11:00am (1000 GMT) to remember the seven people killed and dozens injured in the central London attack on Saturday evening.
While Londoners have declared their defiance in the face of terror, bunches of flowers piling up point to a city in mourning less than three months since five were killed outside the British parliament in another attack.
"To the sick and evil extremists who commit these hideous crimes, we will defeat you. You will not win," Mayor Sadiq Khan said to applause during a vigil on Monday.
As Khan spoke, police named two of the three attackers as Khuram Shazad Butt and Rachid Redouane.
"Khuram Shazad Butt was known to the police and MI5. However, there was no intelligence to suggest that this attack was being planned," the Metropolitan Police said.
A total of 12 people arrested as part of the investigation have since been released without charge.
The announcement that British intelligence services knew of Butt drew immediate criticism.
"There were some red lights flashing, certainly in the case of Mr Butt," Michael Clarke, a fellow at the RUSI defence and security think-tank, told the BBC.
The London attack follows the May 22 suicide bombing at the Manchester Arena by Salman Abedi-killing 22 people including children-who was also known to British intelligence services.
"Certainly with Abedi in Manchester and Butt now, it looks as if there were some indications that on the face of it may have been missed and I think that will be a great concern," Clarke added.
As attention fell on Butt's path to extremism, British media reported he featured in a Channel 4 documentary entitled "The Jihadis Next Door" and numerous people alarmed by his views had gone to the authorities.
"Why didn't they stop TV jihadi?" read The Sun front page, while The Daily Mirror asked: "So how the hell did he slip through?"
After a brief pause following the London attack, campaigning resumed on Monday and the agenda has been dominated by security issues ahead of Thursday's vote.
Prime Minister Theresa May has vowed to crack down on extremist content online, warning the public: "We cannot and must not pretend that things can continue as they are."
But the premier has faced criticism for her record on security in the six years she served as Britain's interior minister before becoming prime minister last year.