Clockwise: Chrissy Archibald, Sebastien Belanger, Kirsty Boden, Ignacio Echeverria, Sara Zelenak, Xavier Thomas, Alexandre Pigeard, James McMullan

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The victims of the attack clockwise – Chrissy Archibald, Sebastien Belanger, Kirsty Boden, Ignacio Echeverria, Sara Zelenak, Xavier Thomas, Alexandre Pigeard, James McMullan

Armed officers kept shooting the 2017 London Bridge attackers because they thought they were wearing explosive vests, an inquest has heard.

Det Supt Rebecca Riggs said officers began to withdraw after gunning down the knifemen on 3 June 2017, but had to fire additional shots when they saw they were “still moving”.

People hiding in a nearby pub were injured by shrapnel and a stray bullet.

Det Supt Riggs gave evidence at the second day of the Old Bailey inquest.

She said Khuram Butt and Youssef Zaghba confronted unarmed police officers shouting “Allahu Akbar”.

The officers, from City of London Police, shot the pair, along with a third attacker, Rachid Redouane, and they fell to the ground.

‘In harm’s way’

Other armed officers arrived on the scene and withdrew when Butt and Zaghba had discarded their jackets to reveal fake suicide vests, Det Supt Riggs said.

“They could see that the attackers were still moving,” she added.

“They believed they were going to activate the explosive devices they were wearing and they fired a number of shots.”

Neil McLelland, who was looking out of the window of the nearby Wheatsheaf pub, was hit in the head by a bullet and fell to the ground, while five other people were injured by shrapnel from the shooting.

The court heard the officers then put “themselves in harm’s way” to evacuate the pub, taking Mr McLelland and others to safety.

Mr McLelland survived his injuries.

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The armed officers who killed the knifemen have not been named at the inquest

The armed officers had got out of their car so quickly they did not put the handbrake on and the vehicle rolled down the street, the court heard.

‘Brief but furious assault’

The court was also told one victim was killed after he tried to beat the attackers with his skateboard.

Det Supt Riggs said Spaniard Ignacio Echeverria had been cycling with friends when he came across PC Wayne Marques and PC Charlie Guenigault trying to tackle the knifemen.

The officers had stepped in to help Oliver Downing and Marie Bondeville, who had been hurt by the trio.

Mr Echeverria, an HSBC financial crime analyst, ran across to help and swung his board at one of the killers but was knocked to the ground by Redouane, the inquest was told.

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Ignacio Echeverria was the last of eight people to be killed in the attack

Det Supt Riggs said: “Ignacio got off his bike and ran across to where the two officers were to assist [them].”

“He had taken his board from his rucksack and swung at the attackers and managed to hit them. [Rachid] Redouane retaliated, causing him to fall on the ground,” she added.

“The attackers then set upon him on the ground.”

Counsel to the coroner Jonathan Hough QC added: “It was a brief but furious assault.”

Mr Echeverria was the last of eight fatalities around London Bridge and Borough Market when Butt, Zaghba and Redouane drove a van into pedestrians and stabbed others.

Those who were killed were James McMullan, 32, from Hackney in London, French trio Xavier Thomas, 45, Alexandre Pigeard, 26, and Sebastien Belanger, 36, Chrissy Archibald, 30, Ignacio Echeverria, 39, from Madrid, and Australians Sara Zelenak, 21, and Kirsty Boden, 28.

Extreme acts of bravery

BBC reporter Marie Jackson, at the inquest

The raw emotion felt on day one of the inquest gave way to the detail and facts of the attack on day two.

But the bald facts revealed much.

The figure of 48 people seriously injured was brought to life as the court heard their names for the first time and the nature of their injuries, many of whom were stabbed multiple times.

The court was shown dozens of CCTV images that mapped the attackers’ movements as they plucked their victims at random from Borough Market’s streets, cafes and restaurants.

We also learned of extreme acts of bravery.

Some officers broke with a “hot zone” protocol to stay out of unsafe environments unless armed.

They knew the attackers were carrying knives and wearing what they thought were suicide vests, but could see the public were at risk and casualties needed help, the court heard.

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