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London Bridge terrorists lawfully shot dead by police after they 'ignored clear warning shouts,' inquest jury concludes

Terrorists Khuram Butt, Rachid Redouane and Youssef Zaghba were found to have been lawfully killed. Credit: PA

The London Bridge terrorists, who killed eight people and injured 48 others, were lawfully shot dead by police, a jury has found.

Khuram Butt, 27, Rachid Redouane, 30, and Youssef Zaghba, 22, mowed down pedestrians on the bridge before stabbing random members of the public around Borough Market.

They were armed with ceramic knives and had fake suicide belts strapped around their waists during the marauding attack on the evening of June 3 2017.

The rampage was halted after less than 10 minutes when the attackers confronted three armed police in Stoney Street.

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick praised the "tremendous courage and professionalism" the officers showed.

In a statement after the verdict, Ms Dick said: "These dreadful events showed us the very worst of humanity, but they also showed us the very best as well.

"What stood out during these inquests, head and shoulders above all else, were the accounts of tremendous bravery and compassion by the public and emergency services alike."

The victims of the atrocity at London Bridge. Credit: PA

At the inquest, the Old Bailey heard that the officers shouting warnings and opened fire as Butt, Redouane and Zaghba came at them.

In the hail of bullets, a man in the nearby Wheatsheaf pub was hit by a stray round but survived.

Fearing Butt and Redouane could still detonate explosive devices as they lay injured, the police officers shot at them again, jurors were told.

A bomb disposal expert told the court he only realised the suicide belts were fake after he cut them off the dead bodies and held them up.

Jurors deliberated for three-and-a-half hours to conclude that all three attackers were lawfully killed by police after they "ignored clear warning shouts".

Chief coroner Mark Lucraft QC had directed them that was the only "safe" conclusion in the circumstances.

He praised the actions of the armed officers and said nothing less than "lethal force" had been appropriate.

Tributes to the eight people who were killed in the London Bridge attackers in June 2017. Credit: PA

He told jurors: "You may well agree they acted with courage and they only used such force as was necessary."

During the inquest, jurors visited the spot in Stoney Street where Butt, Redouane and Zaghba died and heard dramatic accounts of the final moments.

Pc Sam Balfour, 25, and Pc Bartek Tchorzewski, 36, were among unarmed officers who tracked the attackers through Borough Market.

In an interview coinciding with the conclusion of the inquest, Pc Tchorzewski said: "We were just thinking about stopping them. Assume the worst and you try to think what you may encounter and what we will do.

"But to be honest nothing can prepare you for that. No briefings."

Armed police at London Bridge. Credit: PA

Pc Balfour said: "I was quite aware walking down they could spring out at us at any second."

When armed police arrived on the scene, Pc Balfour feared he was in the line of fire and might get shot himself.

He said: "We started to shout, 'That's them, that's them', pointing out those terrorists, 'Shoot them'."

An armed officer identified only as BX46 told jurors he shouted words to the effect of "armed police, stand still, drop the knife", believing he was in immediate danger as Butt came at him.

Police at the scene in June 2017. Credit: PA

Pc Iian Rae said he went to handcuff Redouane as he moved on the ground while his colleague Pc Tim Andrews handcuffed injured Butt.

Pc Rae said: "His arms and legs were moving and I knew he had an IED (improvised explosive device) strapped to him.

"I did not know they were fake. I had to make a split-second decision - if I don't go and do something there is going to be a lot more lives lost."

The firearms officers then used "lethal force" to avert the danger that the terrorists would detonate explosive devices, jurors heard.

PC Iian Rae. Credit: PA

Pc Rae, 51, who was called on to protect the public in the wake of the 7/7 London bombings in 2005, was one of a number of officers recognised for their bravery.

He said police teamwork on the night of the London Bridge attack was "magnificent".

Ms Dick said lessons had been learned from the Paris attacks of November 13 2015 that meant that London's police force were "ready and able to respond" on the night of June 3.

"I have no doubt that because of this preparation in the years before, many lives were saved," she said.

A separate inquest concluded victims Xavier Thomas, 45, Chrissy Archibald, 30, Sara Zelenak, 21, James McMullan, 32, Kirsty Boden, 28, Alexandre Pigeard, 26, Sebastien Belanger, 36, and Ignacio Echeverria, 39, were unlawfully killed.