LONDON: Five people were killed and about 40 injured in London on Wednesday after a car ploughed into pedestrians and an attacker stabbed a policeman close to the British parliament in what police called a “marauding terrorist attack”.
The dead included the assailant and the policeman he stabbed, while the other three victims were among the pedestrians hit by the car as it tore along Westminster Bridge before crashing into railings just outside parliament.
“We’ve declared this as a terrorist incident and the counterterrorism command are carrying out a full-scale investigation into the events today,” Mark Rowley, Britain’s most senior counterterrorism officer, told reporters.
“The attack started when a car was driven over Westminster Bridge, hitting and injuring a number of members of the public, also including three police officers.
“A car then crashed near to parliament and at least one man, armed with a knife continued the attack and tried to enter parliament.”
A woman was pulled alive, but with serious injuries, from the Thames, the Port of London Authority said. The circumstances of her fall into the river were unknown.
Three French schoolchildren aged 15 or 16 were among those injured in the attack, French officials said.
The attack took place on the first anniversary of attacks by militants that killed 32 people in Brussels.
Prime Minister Theresa May was being kept updated and was due to chair a meeting of the government’s crisis response committee.
“The thoughts of the PM and the government are with those killed and injured in this appalling incident, and with their families,” her office said in a statement.
The House of Commons, which was in session at the time, was suspended and lawmakers were asked to stay inside. British Home Secretary Amber Rudd said the government’s top priority was people’s security.
“The British people will be united in working together to defeat those who would harm our shared values: values of democracy, tolerance and the rule of law,” she said.
May spoke to US President Donald Trump about the attack, the White House said. US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson condemned what he described as “horrific acts of violence”.
In Edinburgh, the Scottish parliament suspended a planned debate and vote on independence as the news from London came in.
Britain is on its second-highest alert level of “severe” meaning an attack by militants is considered highly likely.
Wednesday’s attack was near the location where, in 1979, Airey Neave, a Member of Parliament who was a close aide to Margaret Thatcher, was killed by a car-bomb claimed by the Irish National Liberation Army.
Security tightened at UK sites in New York
New York police ramped up security at British sites across the city after the attack in London.
The sites included the British Consulate and the British Mission to the United Nations, senior New York Police Department officials said at a news conference.