Another Attack Hits Britain Days Before Election

    05 June, 2017

    British police continue to investigate a deadly attack last Saturday in London.

    Seven people were killed and more than 50 others injured on or near the world-famous London Bridge.

    It started when three men drove a van into people walking on the bridge. The men then got out of the vehicle and ran to a nearby market and began stabbing people. The victims reportedly included British nationals and foreigners. London police killed three attackers.

    At least 10 people have been detained as part of the investigation. The Islamic State group claims responsibility for the attack.

    Forensic police investigate an area in the London Bridge area of London, June 5, 2017.
    Forensic police investigate an area in the London Bridge area of London, June 5, 2017.

    The violence came less than a week before Britain's parliamentary elections. Political campaigning restarted on Monday after a one-day suspension after the attack.

    It was Britain's third terrorist attack in less than three months. On May 22, a suicide bomber killed 22 people at a concert in the city of Manchester. In March, five people died in an attack on London's Westminster Bridge.

    The attacks turned much attention in the election campaign to national security issues.

    British Prime Minister Theresa May condemned the latest violence. She said that, in addition to being an attack on London and the United Kingdom, it was also one "on the free world."

    May said there was no clear evidence that the three attacks were operationally connected. But she said they were "bound together by the evil ideology of Islamist extremism."

    She said she believed there is "far too much tolerance for extremism" in Britain. "We need to be more robust in identifying and stamping out extremism in public service and across society... it's time to say enough is enough."

    May hopes to use the elections this Thursday to continue serving as prime minister and leader of the ruling Conservative Party. At the time she called for the vote last April, she was considered the favorite against Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn. But the race has grown much closer in recent weeks.

    Public opinion surveys show May's Conservatives are leading Labour by between one and 12 points. Earlier surveys did not correctly predict the result of Britain's vote to leave the European Union (EU) a year ago.

    May's government has been working with police on security measures to make the voting safe. She stated that "violence can never be allowed to disrupt the democratic process."

    Corbyn has criticized May's record on security issues. He said he supported calls for her resignation for ordering cuts in police forces while she served as Britain's home secretary.

    However, Corbyn said the best way to get May out is for people to go out and vote.

    "There's an election on Thursday, that's the chance," he said.

    The Labour Party has promised to increase the number of police officers and to strengthen neighborhood security programs to fight terror.

    May said Corbyn is unable to guarantee Britain's security at a time of such increased threats. "We have given increased powers to the police to be able to deal with terrorists - powers which Jeremy Corbyn has boasted he has always opposed," she said.

    May said Monday that Britain's anti-terrorism operations were fully financed.

    But London Mayor Sadiq Khan, a Labour member, said his city had been forced to cut about $775 million for police from its budget. "We have had to close police stations, sell police buildings and we've lost thousands of police staff."

    In addition to setting anti-terror policies, the election winner will be responsible for negotiating Britain's withdrawal from the EU. Other major issues during the campaign have been the state-run National Health Service, immigration and the economy.

    I'm Bryan Lynn.

    Bryan Lynn wrote this story for VOA Learning English. His story was based on reports from VOANews, the Associated Press, Reuters and Agence France-Presse. George Grow was the editor.

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    Words in This Story

    ideology – adj. set of ideas or beliefs

    tolerance n. willingness to accept feelings or beliefs that are different from your own

    robustadj. strong and healthy

    stamp outv. end something, destroy

    disruptv. cause something to end or not be able to continue in a normal way

    boast v. express pride about yourself or something you have done