4 dead, 29 injured in apparent terrorist attack outside U.K. House of Commons
The city of London remained on high alert Thursday morning as police continued to investigate a terror attack outside Parliament that left four people dead — including the attacker and police officer Keith Palmer — and at least 29 more injured. Police named Aysha Frade, 43, a college worker, as one of the dead.
Eight arrests have been made in raids in London, Birmingham, and other parts of the U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May addressed MPs shortly after 10:30 a.m. Thursday, saying that the attacker had been known to security services but was “a peripheral figure,” and confirming that there was no prior intelligence of his plans.
May also confirmed the nationalities of those injured. “In addition to 12 Britons admitted to hospital, we know the victims include three French children, two Romanians, four South Koreans, one German, one Pole, one Irish, one Chinese, one Italian, one American and two Greeks. We are in close contacts with the governments of the countries of all those affected.”
Shortly before 3 p.m. Wednesday, a lone attacker plowed his car into pedestrians on London’s Westminster Bridge before charging toward Parliament where, wielding a knife, he attacked police officers guarding the building. The attacker stabbed PC Keith Palmer, 48, before being shot and subdued.
“This is a day we’ve planned for but hoped would never happen,” Mark Rowley, the head of the city’s counter-terrorism operations, said. “Sadly it’s now a reality.”
London’s Metro Police said investigations were ongoing, asking the public to stay away from Westminster and the surrounding area. The Guardian’s Ewen MacAskill reported that Britain’s intelligence community was working closely with police to determine whether the attack was linked to a terrorist group.
Prime Minister Theresa May called the attack “sick and depraved,” and praised the police and first responders for their bravery. “Once again today these exemplary men and women ran towards the danger even as they encouraged others to move the other way.”
May addressed the nation Wednesday evening, shortly after leaving an emergency meeting of Britain’s crisis committee, known as COBRA, where top government officials and counter-terror experts came together to discuss the attack.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan matched May in his resolve, saying that “Londoners will never be cowed by terrorism.”
Londoners will never be cowed by terrorism. pic.twitter.com/SidIuIztvu
— Mayor of London (@MayorofLondon) March 22, 2017
And the U.K. Parliament followed in kind, confirming that both Houses would resume parliamentary business as usual on Thursday.
We can confirm that both the House of Commons and the House of Lords will sit tomorrow at their normal times.
— UK Parliament (@UKParliament) March 22, 2017
But for a few hours on Wednesday afternoon, the terror attack brought London to a halt and sent Parliament into lockdown. MPs tweeted updates from inside the secured building.
— George Freeman MP (@Freeman_George) March 22, 2017
I think we are nearly all in now! All well behaved and calm! pic.twitter.com/0Dv2r5iIQk
— Michael German (@mjgerman) March 22, 2017
One MP’s heroics during the attack drew national praise. Foreign Minister Tobias Ellwood attempted to give the stabbed police officer first aid, stemming blood flow and performing mouth-to-mouth. Ellwood lost his brother Jon in the 2002 Bali terror attacks, which killed 202 people.
— BBC News (UK) (@BBCNews) March 22, 2017
Leaders from around the world were quick to offer their support to the U.K. and May. U.S. President Donald Trump spoke to her by phone Wednesday evening, offering America’s close ally full U.S. support and praising London’s first responders.
— President Trump (@POTUS) March 22, 2017
German Chancellor Angela Merkel professed Germany’s solidarity with the U.K. “I confirm on behalf of Germany and its citizens that we stand firmly and resolutely by Britain’s side when it comes to fighting any kind of terrorism,” Merkel said in a statement.
French President François Hollande reached out to May to convey “the solidarity of France in this tragic ordeal.” French Prime Minister Bernard Cazeneuve confirmed that French students were injured in the car crash on Westminster Bridge.
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said, “The very heart of the city has been struck. Our thoughts are with the British people.”
Wednesday was the first anniversary of terrorist attacks in Brussels that killed 32 people. Britain was already on high alert, with MI5 putting the country at its second highest terrorism threat level, which categorizes an attack as being highly likely.
This story was updated at 6:50 a.m EST to reflect arrests made in the U.K.