LONDON, June 7: French President Emmanuel Macron said Wednesday that a third French victim has been identified among those killed in the London Bridge van-and-stabbing attack in London.
He did not identify the victim, but British police recovered a body Tuesday downstream from the bridge. The next of kin of 45-year-old Xavier Thomas were informed.
“We are paying a heavy cost in these attacks,” Macron said.
If confirmed, Thomas would be the eighth person killed in the vehicle and knife attack. Almost 50 were wounded.
Thomas was walking with his girlfriend over the bridge when the attack began on Saturday night.
Police said earlier that witness accounts suggested he might have been thrown into the river. Thomas’ girlfriend was struck and seriously injured by the van.
Police early Wednesday arrested a 30-year-old man in east London in connection to the attack and are searching his home.
Two men are now in custody on suspicion of violating the Terrorism Act. They have not been identified or charged. All others who had been arrested have been released without facing charges.
Police killed all three attackers.
At least two of the men were known to British intelligence and law-enforcement officials, raising questions about whether anything could have been done to prevent the assault.
Police have named the attackers as Khurum Butt, 27, who had been known for his extremist views; 30-year-old Rachid Redouane, also known as Rachid Elkhdar; and Youssef Zaghba, a 22-year-old Italian national of Moroccan descent who was reportedly working in a London restaurant.
Italian authorities said Zaghba had been stopped and questioned in Italy but had not been charged with any crime. Italian officials said suspicions about him had been shared with British authorities.
Italian news reports say the London Bridge attacker who had been stopped in Italy en route to Syria last year was subsequently listed in the European-wide intelligence-sharing system and was stopped at London’s Stansted airport in January but let go.
Citing intelligence sources, Italian dailies Corriere della Sera and La Repubblica said Zaghba was met at the Bologna airport by Italian intelligence agents each time he arrived in Italy to visit his mother after his initial run-in with Bologna airport authorities on March 15, 2016.
Then, his passport and cellphone were sequestered after he tried to board a flight for Turkey with a one-way ticket and a small backpack. But he successfully got them back after a court determined there wasn’t enough evidence to arrest him.
After that incident, Italian authorities entered his information in SIS — the Schengen Information System — a network that allows Schengen countries to enter and consult intelligence about people wanted or missing, the papers said. Repubblica said when he landed in January at Stansted after a 10-day visit in Bologna, his name was verified in the SIS system but he was allowed to go.
Corriere said Zaghba had been radicalized by Khuram Butt, considered the head of the cell. They worked in the same restaurant: Kentucky Fried Chicken in London’s East Ham area.
Butt was the office manager according to a statement from Auriga Holdings, the holding company. The company did not immediately respond to Associated Press requests for more information.
London officials said a large part of the outer cordon of the crime scene had reopened. Borough Market, a popular gathering place, remains closed as more evidence is gathered.
The attack, and prior attacks in Manchester and near Parliament in London, have prompted Prime Minister Theresa May to call for tougher counterterrorism laws even if it means changing human rights protections.
Reaction to the attack has dominated the final days of campaigning before Thursday’s general election, with opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn and others criticizing May for cutting police numbers by roughly 20,000 during her tenure as home secretary.
In the Saturday night rampage, the attackers first drove a rented van into a crowd and then jumped out and randomly stabbed people they encountered.