London attacks: Shocked neighbours reveal 'jihadist' was friendly to them
Neighbours of one of the suspected terrorists involved in the London attacks — who recognised him from a picture in which he appears to be wearing an Arsenal shirt and a fake suicide bomb vest — have spoken of their shock.
The photo appeared to show two of the suspects lying on the ground after they were shot by police, with the one in the foreground wearing an Arsenal away shirt under camouflage clothing.
Seven people were killed and at least 48 injured, 21 of them critically, by the three terrorists before they were killed by police.
People living in a flats in King Road, Barking, east London, were woken early on Sunday morning by an armed police raid in connection with the attack.
Residents who spoke to the Mirror anonymously said he was known as “Abbs” and that he appeared quiet and unassuming.
Construction worker Seva Litvjakovs (35), who lives in the block that was raided, said: “I looked on Twitter and saw one of the terrorists who had been shot by police and he looked 90% like my neighbour — he was even wearing the same Arsenal shirt that I had seen him in at 5pm that evening.
“I only had a normal neighbour relationship with him, but he always smiled and said ‘hello’.”
One resident said he had reported one of the attackers to police after he believed he had become radicalised by videos on YouTube.
The three attackers drove a van at pedestrians on London Bridge before indiscriminately stabbing people with large knives.
The terrorists were shot dead within eight minutes of the start of the attack but had managed to fatally wound or kill seven people and injure at least 48 others.
Gabriele Sciotto, who took the photograph, said he witnessed the men trying to attack people in the crowds, before officers shot them.
“There were three men. Policemen were trying to pull the attackers off the crowd ... then I saw them being shot,” said Mr Sciotto. “I couldn’t tell who was dead or who was alive. I’m glad I’m alive.”
Mark Rowley, Scotland Yard’s Assistant Commissioner, said the attackers had worn fake suicide bomb vests with canisters strapped to their backs in an attempt to deter police officers from approaching them.
It did not work. Four police officers, including an off-duty officer and one armed with a baton, were injured as they tried to tackle the terrorists before armed colleagues arrived.
Meanwhile, PSNI officers have been patrolling airports and train and bus stations across Northern Ireland. Posting photos on Facebook, the force said its Tactical Support Group, Armed Response and Dog Section had been providing reassurance.
The PSNI also suggested this would be a more common occurrence. “Chances are you will see a few more of us out and about over the next while. We are here first and foremost to provide reassurance to our local community so please feel free to come over and have a chat,” it said.