Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 9 December 2019

Vigil honours London Bridge terror attack victims

UK political leaders stand side by side to pay tribute to the victims and heroes from Friday's atrocity

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson, second right, Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, right, and Mayor of London Sadiq Khan take part in a vigil at Guildhall Yard in London to remember the London attack victims. AP Photo/Matt Dunham
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson, second right, Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, right, and Mayor of London Sadiq Khan take part in a vigil at Guildhall Yard in London to remember the London attack victims. AP Photo/Matt Dunham

A vigil has been held to commemorate the people who lost their lives in the London Bridge terror attack.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson and opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn stood side by side in solidarity.

Two Cambridge University graduates were killed when convicted terrorist Usman Khan went on a knife rampage on Friday.

Saskia Jones, 23, and Jack Merritt, 25, lost their lives in the incident which saw three others also injured.

The attack took place at 2pm on Friday during a prisoner rehabilitation event close to London Bridge.

On Monday a vigil was held at Guildhall Yard in the medieval heart of London to remember the victims and honour members of the emergency services and bystanders who fought the attacker with fists, fire extinguishers and even a narwhal tusk.

Dignitaries, city officials and members of the public observed a two minute silence.

Toby Williamson, chief executive of Fishmongers’ Hall where the attack happened, paid tribute to staff at the venue who tried to help the injured and fight off the attacker.

He said one employee, whom he identified as Lukasz, pulled a 5-foot narwhal tusk from the wall and charged at Khan, allowing others to escape.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan told Monday’s vigil that, in the face of tragedy, people should “take hope from the heroism of ordinary Londoners and emergency services who ran towards danger, risking their lives to help people they didn’t even know.”

The attack has pushed security to the top of the agenda in campaigning for the UK’s December 12 election.

Mr Johnson has blamed legal changes made by a previous Labour government for the fact that Khan was freed from prison a year ago after serving half of a 16-year sentence for terrorist offences, without parole officers assessing whether he still posed a risk.

He has vowed to end the early release of violent offenders altogether.

Opposition parties have blamed years of cuts to the prison and probation services by the Conservatives, who have been in power since 2010.

Khan was on probation, subject to restrictions on his movement and wearing an electronic tag when he launched his attack.

"There are enormous questions to be learned from this terrible event that happened last week and that is, what happened in the prison with this particular individual, what assessment was made of his psychological condition before he was released and also what supervision and monitoring he was under after coming out?" said Mr Corbyn.

The family of Jack Merritt have cautioned against knee-jerk responses. They said Jack “would not want this terrible, isolated incident to be used as a pretext by the government for introducing even more draconian sentences on prisoners, or for detaining people in prison for longer than necessary."

In the wake of the attack, authorities are urgently reviewing the release of more than 70 other former terrorist prisoners.

Updated: December 2, 2019 04:25 PM

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