Four killed, 20 injured
We’re shocked, saddened –Muslim Council of Britain
By Emma Emeozor with agency reports
British Prime Minister was bundled to safety yesterday after a policeman was stabbed, an assailant shot, three people, including a woman died and 20 people injured close to the Houses of Parliament in what police said they were treating as a terrorist incident.
Reports said Theresa May was bundled into her silver Jaguar car by plain-clothes police officers and driven quickly from the scene as what sounded like gunfire rang out at Parliament during the incident. No 10 later announced that she was safe. The House of Commons, which was in session at the time, was immediately suspended and lawmakers were asked to stay inside.
MPs said they had heard three or four gunshots and staff inside Parliament were told to stay inside their offices. Staffs in Parliament were told not to leave their offices while armed officers combed the building. Some were evacuated to New Scotland Yard and others locked in the building. They included around 15 schoolchildren aged around 10, with armed police coming through the lobby now, reports said.
“The children are really calm, the teachers are comforting them” Downing Street was immediately locked down. At press time, the identity of the assailant believed to be of ‘Asian’ origin and in his middle age was yet to be disclosed. Also, the attack was not linked to any terror group. The policeman died at the scene. The attacker, who was shot by armed officers, died after he was taken to hospital.
Amid confusing scenes, it appeared the incident may have unfolded in several locations, including on the busy Westminster Bridge where tourists take pictures of Big Ben and other attractions. A woman was either knocked, jumped or fell in the River Thames during the attack but was rescued by boat crews. Police closed off the bridge while members of the public and paramedics helped those injured on the bridge.
Reports said it emerged that a car that crashed into a gate at the front of the Palace of Westminster, next to Parliament Square was the same vehicle that appears to have driven along the bridge colliding with several people. Reports said an occupant had left the vehicle after it crashed and entered the precincts of Parliament where he stabbed an officer before being shot. The suspected terrorist had driven a 4×4 across Westminster Bridge, ploughing down and seriously injuring pedestrians.
Before entering the Parliamentary compound, the unnamed suspect had struck several pedestrians as he drove a car across the Westminster Bridge, before crashing it into railings. A woman died. Reports quoted a doctor at St Thomas’ Hospital as saying that a number of other people were hurt, some with “catastrophic” injuries.
Tom Peck, political editor for the Independent, tweeted: “There was a loud bang screams and commotion. Then the sound of gunshots. Armed police everywhere.” Press Association political editor Andrew Woodcock witnessed the scenes unfolding from his office window overlooking New Palace Yard.
“I heard shouts and screams from outside and looked out, and there was a group of maybe 40 or 50 people running round the corner from Bridge Street into Parliament Square. They appeared to be running away from something. As the group arrived at the Carriage Gates, where policemen are posted at the security entrance, a man suddenly ran out of the crowd and into the yard. He seemed to be holding up a long kitchen knife.
“I heard what sounded like shots, I think about three of them and then the next thing I knew there were two people lying on the ground and others running to help them. Armed police were quickly on the scene and I heard them shouting to people to get out of the yard.”
An eye witness, Radoslaw Sikorski, a senior fellow at Harvard’s Centre for European Studies, posted a video to Twitter showing people lying injured in the road on Westminster Bridge. He wrote: “A car on Westminster Bridge has just mowed down at least 5 people.”
United States President Donald Trump told reporters at the White House he had been briefed on events in London but gave no details. The incident took place on the first anniversary of attacks on Brussels in Belgium.
In its reaction, Muslim Council of Britain said: “We’re shocked and saddened.”
Britain is on its second-highest alert level of “severe” meaning an attack by militants is considered highly likely. In May 2013, two British Islamists stabbed to death soldier Lee Rigby on a street in southeast London. In July 2005, four British Islamists killed 52 commuters and themselves in suicide bombings on the British capital’s transport system in what was London’s worst peacetime attack.