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London Bridge attack: Victims named by police as Cambridge graduates, 23 and 25

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London Bridge attack: Victims named by police as Cambridge graduates, 23 and 25
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REUTERS/Toby Melville
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The two victims who died following an attack near London Bridge on Friday were named by the London Metropolitan Police on Sunday.

Who are the victims?

Jack Merritt, 25, of Cottenham, Cambridgeshire and Saskia Jones, 23, of Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, died in the attack, police said, as well as the suspect.

"Both were graduates of the University of Cambridge and were involved in the Learning Together programme – Jack as a co-ordinator and Saskia as a volunteer", police said.

Three other people — a man and two women — were injured and taken to hospital, where one remains while the two others are in a stable condition and "continue to receive expert care in hospital", police said.

"Jack Merritt, our beautiful, talented boy, died doing what he loved, surrounded by people he loved and who loved him. He lit up our lives and the lives of his many friends and colleagues, and we will miss him terribly. (...) We know 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," a statement from Merritt's family cited by police read.

"Saskia was a funny, kind, positive influence at the centre of many people’s lives. She had a wonderful sense of mischievous fun and was generous to the point of always wanting to see the best in all people. (...) Saskia had a great passion for providing invaluable support to victims of criminal injustice, which led her to the point of recently applying for the police graduate recruitment programme, wishing to specialise in victim support", a statement from Jones' family cited by police read.

Many have written condolences for Merritt on Twitter, who worked as a Learning Together course coordinator and was at the event at Fishmongers' Hall.

The University of Cambridge said in a statement that two victims were graduates of the university. A university staff member is among the three injured.

"I am sad beyond words to report that a course coordinator, Jack Merritt, was killed, as was a former student not yet named by the Metropolitan Police. Among the three people injured, whose identities have not been publicly released, is a member of University staff," said Professor Stephen J Toope, the university's vice-chancellor in a statement.

Who is the suspect?

The suspect had served a prison sentence for a terror conviction, it has emerged.

Police said the attacker was previously convicted of terrorism offences in 2012 and had been released from prison on licence after agreeing to wear an electronic tag.

"To the best of my knowledge, the attacker was compliant with conditions imposed after his release from prison", an officer from the British counter-terrorism police said in a briefing on Saturday, adding that the police had found no evidence that anyone else was involved in the attack after carrying out searches in Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent.

After visiting the scene and speaking with police, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that people convicted of terrorist offences should not be "out on early release":

"It is clear to me that this guy was out, he had served half of his sentence, he was out on automatic early release, and I have long said that this system simply isn’t working. It does not make sense for us as a society to be putting terrorists, people convicted of terrorist offences, of serious violent offences out on early release," he said.

"And we argue that people should serve the tariff, serve the term of which they are sentenced. And that’s my immediate takeaway from this," he added.

London Bridge attack: what happened?

Police say the attacker had attended an event celebrating a network bringing people together from criminal justice and higher education institutions.

It was held at Fishmongers' Hall on the north side of London Bridge.

The suspect began stabbing people inside the building before continuing on the bridge, where he was overwhelmed by members of the public, police said.

A video widely shared online shows three men — one armed with a narwhal tusk and another with a fire extinguisher — trying to pull the suspect to the ground.

Another verified video shows a man standing by the suspect — holding what looks like the tusk shortly — before police shot him dead.

George Robarts, a translator who was on the bridge at the time of the attack, said an unidentified man ran through the traffic and jumped the central partition to tackle the attacker with several other people.

"We ran away but looks like he disarmed him," he said. "Amazing bravery."

Officers had been called at 13:58 GMT on Friday and had confronted the suspect by 14:03, according to the Metropolitan Police.

The so-called Islamic State claimed responsibility for attack, saying via its Amaq news agency that the attacker was one of its fighters.

What do we know about the attack suspect?

Police named him on Friday evening as 28-year-old Usman Khan.

He was shot dead on London Bridge by specialist police officers. There were fears he had an explosive vest on, but this turned out to be fake.

Khan, whose family is from Pakistan-controlled Kashmir, was convicted in 2012 for his part in an al-Qaeda-inspired plot to blow up the London Stock Exchange. He was released in December 2018 subject to conditions

The attack comes only three weeks after Britain lowered its national terrorism threat level to "substantial" from "severe", its lowest level since 2014.

Crowds were kept away from the scene by police - @joebxggs/Twitter

What has been the reaction to the attack?

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that “anybody involved in this crime and these attacks will be hunted down and will be brought to justice."

Britain "will not be cowed, divided or intimidated" by such attacks, he added.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan praised "the breathtaking heroism" of members of the public who thwarted the suspect and "ran towards danger not knowing what confronted them".

He said those who intervened didn't know that the device worn by the suspect was fake.

Footage from the scene as details of the attack emerged

"They really are the best of us, another example of the bravery and heroism of ordinary Londoners," Khan added.

Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Cressida Dick, said: “The empty ideology of terror offers nothing but hatred and today I urge everyone to reject that. Ours is a great city because we embrace each other’s differences.

"We must emerge stronger still from this tragedy. In doing that we will ensure that the few who seek to divide us will never, ever succeed."

London Bridge was the scene of an attack in June 2017 when three militants drove a van into pedestrians and then attacked people in the surrounding area, killing eight people.

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