An attacker drove a SUV into pedestrians on the Westminster Bridge, killing and wounding several others, crashed into a fence near the UK Parliament and then attacked police officers with a knife before he was shot by police.
At least five people were killed in the attack, including a police officer and the assailant, the London Metropolitan Police said at a press conference. At least 40 others were injured, police said.
The officer that was stabbed to death was identified as Keith Palmer, a 15-year veteran of the Metropolitan Police force. The attacker has not yet been identified and the rest of the victims’ names have also not been released.
Authorities refused to release the name of the suspect March 23, but provided more details about his identity. They referred to him as British born, saying that he had been the subject of previous investigations by the MI5, the LA Times reported.
British Prime Minister Theresa May reiterated that he was known to British intelligence, saying in a speech to members of Parliament on March 23 that the assailant was “once investigated over concerns about violent extremism.”
He was a peripheral figure. The case is historic. He was not part of the current intelligence picture. There was no prior intelligence of his intent, or of the plot.
A tweet sent out in Arabic on March 23 appeared to confirm that the attacker was a member of the “Islamic State.”
Translated into English, the tweet said:
The attack yesterday in front of the British Parliament in #لندن a soldier of the Islamic State and perform the operation in response to calls to target Allied nationals
Here’s what you need to know about the terror attack:
1. Witnesses Described a Chaotic Scene at the Westminster Bridge as the SUV Drove Through Pedestrians Toward the Parliament
Witnesses described a chaotic scene at the Westminster Bridge and at the UK Parliament building.
Prior to making his way toward the building, the suspect reportedly mowed down groups of pedestrians near Westminster Bridge with his car, and some witnesses described seeing the car crash into a fence.
A report from said that a group of French students were on the bridge at the time of incident and three of them were hit by the suspect’s car.
After the crash, the suspect reportedly ran toward the Parliament and at police officers, where he was reportedly was shot and killed by authorities.
London Ambulance Service Deputy Director of Operations Pauline Cranmer released a statement on the incident. She said that at about 2:40 p.m., the service was called to Westminster Bridge. The first crew arrived “within six minutes” in what she described as a “major incident” in the city.
The BBC reported that a police officer was near the Houses of Parliament, located in central London, when the assailant tried to enter after fleeing from his car. Commons Leader David Lidington told police that the “alleged assailant was shot by armed police.”
A photographer from Reuters said that he witnessed about 12 people who were laying on the ground injured on Westminster Bridge as a result of the car crashing into them. Photos from the scene show the victims bloodied heavily.
In addition, a woman was reportedly pulled from the River Thames near the bridge. She is alive and being treated by paramedics, and it’s thought that she fell or jumped into the river when the car headed toward pedestrians.
London Ambulance Service confirmed that it’s treated “at least 10 patients on Westminster Bridge” and alerted nearby hospitals.
2. Police Declared the Incident a Terrorist Attack
Metropolitan Police said a full investigation is ongoing and the senior national coordinator for the department declared it a terrorist attack.
At a press conference late into the evening, police said that the attack was fueled by Islamist-related international terrorism.
As a result of the terrorist attack, authorities are took increased security measures in and around Parliament. That included sending armed police officers into the building and investigating any other concerns in the nearby area. Metropolitan Police urged those nearby to report anything suspicious to its Anti-Terrorist Hotline.
Areas around the Westminster Bridge and Parliament were evacuated immediately following the incident. In addition, police feared that there may be a car bomb near the scene, so they evacuated Westminster Square.
After evacuating Westminster Square, the bomb squad continued an investigation as a “suspicious package” was found in a car near Parliament, The Sun reported.
No bombs or explosive devices were recovered in Parliament or around the scene.
3. Police Made Several Arrests In an Early-Morning Raid Hours After the Attack
Anti-terror officers confirmed to BBC that the raid in Birmingham wasn’t the only one to take place overnight. Instead, six addresses were raided in London and Birmingham and eight arrests total were made. Metropolitan Police said that they continue to search different addresses for suspects.
Two of those people arrested in the raid were a 58-year-old man and a 39-year-old woman on suspicion of preparation of terrorist acts, Scotland Yard authorities said. In addition, at least four others were also detained “on suspicion of preparing terrorist attacks,” Reuters reported.
Police released a statement about the raids to national media that confirmed they took place in connection with the London attack. It added that there is no risk to those in the area.
Overnight our colleagues from the Metropolitan Police have searched a number of addresses across the country and have made a number of arrests in connection with the (Westminster) incident, including addresses in Birmingham. The arrests and searches were intelligence led and there was no immediate risk to public safety.
4. Parliament Was Shut Down & Put on Lockdown as a Result
Police responded in large numbers to Parliament.
Right away, they placed the building and the surrounding areas on lockdown to ensure safety. In addition, Prime Minister Theresa May was taken to safety.
The Palace of Westminster was placed under lockdown following the incident, as well. Police were seen putting on red firearm suits prior to further investigating the area.
Staff inside of Parliament were escorted to Westminster Abbey as authorities continued their investigation.
People were also stuck on the London Eye, which is located near Parliament, due to the lockdown of Central London.
5. President Trump Was Informed of the Incident
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer confirmed on Twitter that U.S. President Donald Trump has been briefed on the matter and are keeping tabs for updates on the situation.
Trump tweeted March 22 that he had spoke with May and praised “the effective response of security forces and first responders.” The statement from the White House added that the U.K. has the “full cooperation and support of the U.S.”
Earlier in the day, Trump was briefed by National Security Adviser HR McMaster and was late to a meeting. He told the press pool at the meeting that he was “just getting an update on London. Some big news having to do with London just happened,” Mirror reported.
The U.S. State Department issued a statement following the incident that said the country stands “ready to assist in any way.”
Because of the incident in London, areas in the U.S. increased security, including in New York City, ABC News reported.
This post will be updated when additional details are available.
To see more photos and videos from the scene, click below: