London Terror Incident
Terror returned to the streets of London on Wednesday when a black-clad assailant, armed with two long knives, drove his car through a crowd of people on Westminster Bridge before stabbing a police officer to death on the grounds of Parliament.
Five people died in all, including the attacker himself, in the worst terrorist incident to hit the UK since the 7 July 2005 bombings.
Police said the attacker, who is believed to have acted alone, mounted the pavement of the bridge and mowed down more than a dozen tourists, local workers and police officers before crashing into the Parliament railings.
As people ran for their lives, he entered the gates by Westminster Hall and repeatedly stabbed a male police officer. He was shot three times by the officer’s colleagues, and later pronounced dead in hospital.
Police said two people were killed as the car drove down Westminster Bridge. Twenty others were injured in all, including two people who were standing by the railings where the attacker’s black Hyundai came to a stop.
Metropolitan Police acting deputy commissioner Mark Rowley said the attack had been declared a terrorist incident, and Theresa May was due to chair a meeting of the Government’s emergency Cobra committee later today.
A major counter-terror operation had been launched across the capital, Mr Rowley said, though police believe there was only one attacker. “Looking forward, people of London will see extra police officers on our streets, and we could call on the support of military,” he said.
The attack began at around 2.40pm and proceedings in the House of Commons were immediately suspended. Deputy speaker David Lidington announced to the House that a police officer had been stabbed and the “alleged assailant shot by armed police”.
Security sources have described the suspected assailant as a middle-aged Asian man, who attacked the officer on foot with a seven-to-eight inch knife.
Images have emerged of a man dressed in black, believed to be the suspect, being treated on a stretcher within Parliament grounds. A knife could be seen lying on the ground nearby.
Tobias Ellwood MP, a foreign minister, was one of the first to arrive on the scene and provided first aid to the police officer, who has not been named while the force offers support to his family.
The minister was pictured, his face bloodied, as he gave up efforts to provide CPR and a sheet was placed over the officer’s body. Later, he confirmed to the BBC that the officer had died at the scene.
Witnesses, including members of The Independent’s lobby staff, said the police officer fell to the ground clutching his arm or shoulder after he was stabbed, and was seen wounded but moving in the moments afterwards.
A man, believed to be the assailant, then tried to run towards the exit of New Palace Yard, underneath Big Ben.
Police were seen shouting at him, presumably to stop. Shots were then heard.
Dozens of police, many armed, ran around the gate of parliament in the moments after the shots were fired.
Witness Rick Longley said he saw the car crash into the Parliament railings, as well as the subsequent stabbing.
“We were just walking up to the station and there was a loud bang and a guy, someone, crashed a car and took some pedestrians out,” he said.
“They were just laying there and then the whole crowd just surged around the corner by the gates just opposite Big Ben.
“A guy came past my right shoulder with a big knife and just started plunging it into the policeman.
“I have never seen anything like that. I just can’t believe what I just saw.”