Four people were killed and 40 injured in an attack outside British Parliament on Wednesday after a knife wielding attacker rampaged through a street in his car and tried to storm the British symbol of democracy in London. The dead included a police officer and the assailant himself.
While the police is yet to disclose the identity of the attacker, the officials termed the incident as “Islamist-related terrorism” attack.
According to the sequence of events, the attacker driving a grey coloured Hyundai i40 first mowed down pedestrians on Westminster Bridge just outside the British Parliament and then tried storming the Parliament complex.
As he tried to advance his way inside the Parliament gates, he was confronted by a police officer. While the officer, identified as Keith Palmer, was fatally stabbed, the police contingent shot dead the attacker.
According to the reports, eyewitnesses accounted that plainclothes armed officers shouted warnings at him before shooting a number of rounds. He was later seen covered by blankets, presumed dead.
Dozens of injured people were rushed to hospital from the scene and one woman was confirmed dead by doctors at St Thomas Hospital near Parliament hours later. One other civilians was confirmed dead as well.
The first mass casualty terrorist strike on Britain in over a decade was condemned as “sick and depraved terrorist attack” on democratic values by Prime Minister Theresa May.
May, who had just completed her weekly Prime Minister’s Questions, was seen being ushered into a car as gunfire rang out at Parliament during the incident. Downing Street said the prime minister was “safe”.
“The Prime Minister was brought back to Number 10 from Parliament. She is currently monitoring the situation,” said a Downing Street spokesperson, adding May chaired a meeting of the government’s emergency Cobra committee at Downing Street.
While, lawmakers and peers were in lock down inside the Parliament building for an extended period before being walked down across the road to Westminster Abbey.
The Scotland Yard has urged public to “remain vigilant” and said a review of policing strategy in London was underway, with additional policemen being deployed across the city.
Mark Rowley, Britain’s national head for Counter Terrorism Policing and the acting deputy commissioner, has refused to comment on the identity of the attacker, but said “our working assumption is he was inspired by international terrorism” and and “Islamist-related terrorism”.
“We are forensically examining a complicated crime scene that covers a wide area,” Rowley said in a statement about the Met department’s “fast-time examination” of the attack.
The UK threat level has been at ‘Severe’ for some time and the police said they were not considering to change the level.
The Indian High Commission in London has set up a special “Public Response Unit” for any Indians caught up in the terror attack.
The incident happened on the first anniversary of attacks in Brussels by Islamist militants that killed 32 people, and the use of a vehicle was a copy of an Islamic State tactic used previously in the French city Nice and Germany’s Berlin.
(With inputs from Agencies)