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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 September 2018

Britain mourns on anniversary of London Bridge attack

A remembrance service was held for the people killed and wounded in the June 2017 terror attack

Britain held a national minute of silence on Sunday after a remembrance ceremony in the heart of its capital, one year on from the London Bridge terror attack that killed eight people and injured dozens more.

Flowers were laid, candles lit and a religious service held at Southwark Cathedral – the spot where three men in a van crashed after careening into crowds, before launching a stabbing spree at nearby Borough Market.

“The violent assaults one year ago against Londoners and visitors to this city from around the world shocked people everywhere,” said cathedral dean Andrew Nunn in the service, attended by families of the deceased, survivors of the attack and prime minister Theresa May.

“As we gather today let us give thanks for the recovery and healing that we have received in minds and bodies; for the building of relationships and communities; and for the strengthening of friendship and support.”

London Bridge was closed down ahead of the service, cut off by crowd-control barriers and police vehicles, and swarming with watchful officers and private security.

Before the ceremony an impromptu service was held on the structure by the Islamic non-profit London Fatwa Council, with members carrying placards reading ‘One year later, London more united than ever’ and framed pictures of the dead.

“Let not those who hijack people’s faith triumph,” leader Imam Yazdani told a small crowd.

“Let peace and prosperity come to the hearts and minds of everyone around us.”

Flags representing the five nationalities of the eight victims were hung for the cathedral ceremony, where London mayor Sadiq Khan, locals and city dignitaries delivered readings.

The church still bears scars from the attack – with doors dented by police who broke in during the manhunt for the attackers.

But the order of service contained advice for psychological support aimed at those still traumatised, a reminder that some of the deepest scars from the night remain invisible.

“Let me be honest, I’ve been fearful approaching this day,” said Mr Nunn as the ceremony opened.

“If you need to speak to someone this afternoon support teams are here in the cathedral to help you.”

A stone sculpture of PC Wayne Marques, who took on the three attackers solo with his baton and was stabbed in the head, was also blessed and will be installed in the cathedral later.

On Friday Mr Marques revealed he was planning to return to work next month after a year of rehabilitation.

“I’m just basically trying to get as much of me back as possible,” he said in a video released by the British Transport Police.

Afterwards an olive tree – known as the Tree of Healing – was planted in the cathedral grounds using compost from floral tributes left on the bridge in the aftermath of the murders, before a procession to London Bridge where the national minute of silence took place at 4.30pm local time.

“Today we remember those who died and the many more who were injured, and also pay tribute to the bravery of our emergency services and those who intervened or came to the aid of others,” Mrs May said in a statement released earlier in the day.

She branded the June 3, 2017, attack “a cowardly attempt to strike at the heart of our freedoms by deliberately targeting people enjoying their Saturday night with friends and family” and noted that seven of the victims were foreign nationals.

“This is a reflection of our great cosmopolitan capital, whose energy and values bring together people from across the world, and a tragic reminder that the threat from terrorism transcends borders and impacts us all,” she said.

On Sunday morning home secretary Sajid Javid announced that a new review of counter-terrorism legislation in Britain would be launched on Monday – including a provision to recruit up to 2,000 extra security officers in Britain’s intelligence services.

The attackers were shot dead outside Borough Market eight minutes after the first emergency call was made.

The Islamic State (IS) jihadist group claimed responsibility for the attack, one in a six-month campaign of atrocities that swept Britain last year, claiming a total of 35 lives.

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