Five people have died after an attack in Westminster, believed to be linked to terrorism, after a police man was stabbed at the Houses of Parliament and two others ploughed a car into pedestrians on Westminster Bridge yesterday afternoon.
The attack took place at around 2:40pm, with emergency services arrived soon after. Amateur videos shows tourists running from the Palace of Westminster, where a session of Parliament was sitting, with gunshots being heard soon after. Police officers can also be heard shouting, “Go, just go!”
A police officer had been stabbed by a man who was confirmed to be a hate preacher; he was subsequently shot by police and died in hospital. Three pedestrians died and forty people have been reported injured, some suffering “catastrophic injuries” from the collision.
The Queen was set to open the new HQ of the Metropolitan Police today, but the visit has been postponed as the police already have stretched resources; Her Majesty wishes to ease the burden on them.
After the House of Commons, and the House of Lords were suspended, as well as the Scottish and Welsh assemblies, Parliament will sit at the ‘usual time’ today, in a sign that terrorism cannot disrupt democracy.
The Prime Minister was in parliament at the time of the attack, and was quickly escorted to her armoured car while MPs remained inside on lockdown. Theresa May then followed developments at 10 Downing Street. She held an emergency COBRA (Cabinet Office Briefing Room A) meeting this evening, to discuss the official response of Her Majesty’s Government.
A statement from Downing Street read, “The thoughts of the PM and the Government are with those killed and injured in this appalling incident, and with their families. The PM is being kept updated and will shortly chair COBRA.”
Witnesses described a chaotic scene, seeing bodies ‘scatter’ as the car crashed into the gate at the Palace of Westminster. As a precaution, Buckingham Palace, just half a mile away, closed its gates. Her Majesty is currently in residence, less than one mile from the scene.
Foreign & Commonwealth Office minister Tobias Ellwood administered mouth-to-mouth CPR to the injured policeman, in an attempt to save the stabbed officer’s life. Unfortunately, the officer later died. Among those injured by the car were three police officers on their way back from a commendation ceremony and three French teenage students on a school trip. The French Prime Minister confirmed, that the French students were involved in the incident.
Over 1,000 people were moved to Westminster Abbey, where they were briefed by the Metropolitan Police. The White House Press Secretary, Sean Spicer said that the US will back “The City of London and Her Majesty’s Government.” President Trump spoke with the Prime Minister via telephone, earlier today. Increased security presence will be visible across the kingdom tonight, to reassure the British people.
Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley said, “This is a day we plan for but hoped would never happen. Sadly it is now a reality. We will continue to do all we can to protect the people of London.”
The UK security services have disrupted over 13 attacks since 2014. The current terror threat level to the UK is ‘severe’, meaning an attack is ‘highly likely’. This is the second highest level, the highest being ‘critical’, meaning an attack is ‘imminent.’ The attack comes after the UK and US governments ordered an electronics ban on flights from the Middle East and North Africa, due to ‘actionable intelligence.’
The official Twitter account of the Spanish Monarchy tweeted, “Shocked by the London attack, all our solidarity with the British people & their institutions in the fight against terror.”
Seven arrests were made in London and Birmingham overnight, thought to be in connection with the attack.