A man shot dead by London police after he attacked people had been recently released from prison after being jailed for terrorist offences.
Sudesh Amman was released around a week ago after serving half of his three year sentence for terror offences, reports the BBC.
He was under police surveillance at the time of the attack, which police believe was an Islamist-inspired incident.
He had a hoax explosives device strapped to his body, investigators say.
One male stabbing victim was hospitalised with life-threatening wounds following the attack, which took place about 2pm on Sunday (UK time) in the Streatham section, a combined residential and commercial neighbourhood about eight kilometres south of central London, police said.
Officers responded quickly to the stabbings because of a “proactive counterterrorism operation” that was underway, Deputy Assistant Commissioner Lucy D’Orsi said without elaborating.
Video from the scene appeared to show three undercover police officers in an unmarked car making a quick stop and emerging with weapons.
“The circumstances are being assessed,″ the Metropolitan Police force tweeted.
“The incident has been declared as terrorist-related.”
Police said a device was strapped to the suspect’s body and later discovered to be hoax explosives.
Police said they received reports of the stabbings around 2pm yesterday.
Multiple emergency medical vehicles quickly filled the street as helicopters hovered overhead, according to video shared on social media.
A male stabbing victim is being treated for life-threatening injuries, while one woman has non-life threatening injuries and another woman has minor injuries, police said.
“At this stage it is believed a number of people have been stabbed,” police said.
“The circumstances are being assessed; the incident has been declared as terrorist-related.”
Witness Karker Tahir told Sky News that undercover police officers chased a man down the neighbourhood’s main commercial street.
“They kept telling him ‘Stop, stop’,″ Tahir said.
“But he didn’t stop, and then I saw that they shot him three times. It was horrible seeing it. The man was on the floor and it looked like he had something which police said may be a device.
“Police came to us and said, ‘You have to leave the shop because he has a bomb in his bag,’” Tahir added.
Richard Mustonen-Smith, 59, a street pastor who is trained to work with the police during crisis situations, said he was in shock.
“I’ve been here all my life,″ he said.
“We’re always getting accidents down here, but not this.″
The attack took place a little over two months after two people were stabbed to death near London Bridge by a man who had recently been released from the prison where he was serving a 16-year sentence for plotting a terror attack.
Former deputy assistant police commissioner Stephen Roberts said police would quickly try to search the suspect’s residence and seize any computer devices to scour his internet records.
Investigators are researching the man’s background to learn more about the attack and any possible co-conspirators, Mr Roberts said.
Mr Roberts said if the facts show the stabbings were carried out by a “self-starter”, it meant that any city in the country was vulnerable at any time to a similar sort of low-tech attack.
Authorities on November 4 reduced the national threat level to “substantial,” meaning an attack is considered likely. That is the third highest level in a five-step alert system used by British authorities and marks the first time the threat level has been so low since August 2014.
Gulled Bulhan, a 19-year-old student from the neighbourhood, told Britain’s Press Association that he witnessed the attack.
“I was crossing the road when I saw a man with a machete and silver canisters on his chest being chased by what I assume was an undercover police officer – as they were in civilian clothing,” he said.
“The man was then shot. I think I heard three gun shots but I can’t quite remember.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson praised police and emergency workers.
Mr Johnson tweeted: “Thank you to all emergency services responding to the incident in Streatham, which the police have now declared as terrorism-related”.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan urged community resolve in the face of another attack.
“Terrorists seek to divide us and to destroy our way of life,” he said.
“Here in London we will never let them succeed.”
Streatham is a bustling residential area that doesn’t boast any major British landmarks, like areas hit by earlier attacks.