London Bridge attacker tried to rent larger truck

An undated handout photo issued by the Metropolitan Police, London, made available today, shows the van used in the London Bridge attacks of June 3 which killed several people and wounded dozens more. Police said the ringleader of the London Bridge terror gang tried to hire a 7.5 ton truck hours before the attack, police have revealed. Detectives suspect the carnage inflicted could have been even worse if Khuram Butt had not failed to secure the vehicle because his payment did not go through. (AP photo)

By PAISLEY DODDS

Associated Press

LONDON — The carnage of the London Bridge attack could have been worse: One of the attackers tried to rent a larger truck that could have killed more people, but his payment was declined. The bloodthirsty gang was also shot dead before they could make their way back to the van where their petrol bombs were stored.

In a rare glimpse into the weeklong investigation, police released details today that showed Khuram Butt originally tried to rent a 7.5 ton 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 people injured. It was the third such deadly attack in Britain in the three months.

After leaving the small white van, the men used 12-inch knives with bright pink blades, according to Dean Haydon, head of the Metropolitan Police’s Counter-Terrorism Command.

Police also disclosed that multiple petrol bombs were discovered in the van, and a copy of the Quran opened at a page “describing martyrdom” was found at one of the attackers’ houses.

Investigators believe three victims were killed on the bridge, including one man who was thrown into the Thames River, before the attackers left the vehicle and stabbed five people to death around London’s busy Borough Market, Haydon said. Police believe Butt was driving the van.