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Police feared London Bridge terrorist’s suicide belt could explode at any moment

Usman Khan and London Bridge taped off.
Usman Khan launched a knife attack in Fishmongers’ Hall before taking his campaign of terror onto London Bridge in November 2019 (Picture: Getty Images)

Armed officers called to the Fishmongers’ Hall terror attack have recalled how they desperately tried to clear London Bridge fearing a bomb blast could cause devastation at any moment.

Usman Khan, 28, launched a deadly knife attack on November 29, 2019, killing Jack Merritt and Saskia Jones at a prisoner education event at nearby Fishmongers’ Hall.

An inquest into the death of the knifeman heard how police believed the lifelike hoax suicide belt he was wearing was real, and screamed at people crossing the bridge to ‘go go go, there’s a bomb’.

Officers described how some bystanders were filming the dramatic events while others were going about their business without ‘a care in the world’.

The inquest heard how brave officers put their lives on the line to pin him down fearing they ‘would all be dead’ if they did not stop him.

One said a bomb the type Khan had mimicked would have a blast range of around 100 metres and would have caused carnage on the bridge on a busy Friday afternoon.

It was later discovered that Khan fashioned the fake explosive from items he bought in Stafford the week before.

One officer, known only as WS5, said: ‘I believed it (the explosive) to be a viable device and if I hadn’t neutralised it at the time I believed we would all be dead.’

Usman Khan, then 20, who was jailed on February 9, 2012.
Khan, then 20, was equipped with a hoax suicide belt when he launched his attack (Picture: West Midlands Police/AFP)
A picture of the knives used by Usman Khan to carry out his attack.
The terrorist killed two and wounded several others with knives but officers revealed how they believed he was also armed with a viable bomb (Picture: PA)

Describing the scene, the officer added: ‘I was on the radio, trying to shut off the footpath. I remember there was a lady pushing a pram, not a care in the world, and river cruise boats going by (on the Thames).

‘I’ve seen IEDs (improvised explosive devices) and what devastation it can cause. It could have caused death or serious injury.’

Another officer, YX16, said he was trying to get people away from the footpaths underneath the north end of London Bridge.

He said: ‘I was screaming to get out of the way, “go go go, there’s a bomb on the bridge”.

‘I thought it was going to explode, to be honest with you.

‘So I focused on trying to get people out of the way, to save lives.’

Khan was fatally wounded by police, who shot at him 20 times in two brief spells, eight minutes apart.

The inquest continues.

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