Police investigating the London Bridge terrorist attack have released images of the fake explosive belts worn by the three perpetrators and which officers believe may suggest the terrorists planned to create a “siege situation”.
All three of the attackers wore leather belts that were attached to disposable water bottles wrapped in silver masking tape, an attempt to replicate a suicide bomb belt and maximise the fear of anyone who approached.
Dean Haydon, the Metropolitan police commander who is leading the counter-terrorism investigation, said the fake suicide belts made the courage of police and members of the public who confronted the terrorists even more remarkable.
In a statement, Haydon said: “I have not seen this tactic in the UK before where terrorists create maximum fear by strapping fake explosives to themselves.
Anyone who saw them on the night would have thought they were genuine.
It is hard to speculate what the motive was for wearing the belts. It could be that they had plans to take the attack into a siege situation, or it might be that they saw it as protection from being shot themselves.
“It makes the bravery of those police officers and members of the public who tackled the terrorists even more remarkable.
“The belt would have been visible to them and if you are fighting back or aiming a shot at someone wearing the device you would clearly be very aware that you could be caught in an explosion.”
Detectives have so far spoken to 262 people from 19 different countries and, of these, 78 are considered significant witnesses although officers are appealing for more to come forward.
One specific appeal centres on the distinctive pink ceramic knives which the attackers used to stab dozens of people during an eight-minute rampage last Saturday.
The kitchen knives, each measuring 30cm, were branded Ernesto with duct tape wrapped around the handles and in the case of the ringleader, Khuram Butt, 27, a leather strap had been attached to the handle and was hung around his wrist.
Butt originally tried to rent a 7.5-tonne box truck. The intended truck was smaller but similar to the one used in the Nice attack last year that killed 86 people and injured hundreds in the resort town in the south of France.
After his payment was declined, Butt and his two accomplices rented a smaller van that they used to plow into crowds before they leapt from the vehicle and went on a stabbing rampage in an attack that left eight people dead and nearly 50 injured.
It was the third deadly attack in Britain in three months.