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London attack: Four dead and 40 others injured in Westminster Bridge terror incident

What we know so far

  • Four people, including a police officer and the attacker, have died and at least 40 wounded, some with catastrophic injuries
  • Officer who died was named as Keith Palmer (48)
  • One woman was killed on Westminster Bridge after a number of pedestrians were mowed down by car
  • It is believed a second person was killed in the incident on the bridge
  • Another woman ended up in the Thames and was treated for serious injuries after being pulled from water
  • French schoolchildren were among those targeted on bridge
  • The attacker jumped out the car and fatally stabbed a police officer in the grounds of the Palace of Westminster
  • The knifeman shot dead moments later by another officer
  • After almost five hours MPs were allowed to leave the Commons chamber
  • Lockdown at Parliament is over. People, including MPs, peers and office staff, allowed to leave after almost five hours
  • Casualty bureau opened. Loved ones should call 0800 0560944 or 0207 1580010
  • PM Theresa May chairs emergency Cobra meeting
  • Parliament will sit as normal tomorrow

A total of four people, including the attacker, have died and around 40 others have been injured after a man mowed down pedestrians on Westminster Bridge and stabbed a policeman before being shot by armed officers.

The police officer who died was named by Scotland Yard as 48-year-old husband and father Keith Palmer.

The attacker, armed with two large knives, mowed down pedestrians with his car on Westminster Bridge, including schoolchildren, then rushed at the gates in front of the Houses of Parliament, stabbing the policeman before being shot dead by other officers.

Eyewitnesses described scenes of terror when gunfire rang out as the man approached a second officer.

Scotland Yard's top anti-terror officer Mark Rowley said the two other fatalities were on the bridge when the terrorist struck. At least 20 other people were injured.

Mr Rowley told reporters outside New Scotland Yard, just yards from the scene of the attack: "This was a day we've planned for but hoped would never happen. Sadly it is now a reality."

Paramedics fought to save the officer's life and that of his attacker on the floor of the cobbled courtyard in front of Parliament, with Foreign Office minister Tobias Ellwood among those who rushed to help.

The police officer was wheeled away on a stretcher with his face covered.

Mr Ellwood, who lost his brother in the Bali bombing, could be seen pumping the officer's chest then standing above him, his hands and face smeared with blood.

Other armed officers, some in plain clothes and wearing balaclavas, swarmed around the yard just feet from where MPs had earlier attended Prime Minister's Questions.

The knifeman drove a grey Hyundai i40 across Westminster Bridge before crashing it into railings then running through the gates of the Palace of Westminster.

His attack left a trail of destruction as paramedics tended to victims on the bridge and at the gate.

One woman hit by the attacker's car before he reached Parliament was confirmed dead by a doctor at St Thomas' Hospital. She said others on the bridge suffered 'catastrophic injuries'.

Another woman who apparently fell into the Thames was rescued and given urgent medical treatment on a nearby pier.

London Ambulance Service said paramedics had treated at least 10 patients on Westminster Bridge.

A party of French schoolchildren were among those targeted on the bridge, with three injured.

Downing Street said Prime Minister Theresa May, who was ushered away from Parliament after the attack, was chairing a meeting of the Government's emergency Cobra committee.

Mrs May was seen being ushered into a silver Jaguar in the grounds of the palace as what sounded like gunfire rang out at around 2.45pm.

Eyewitness Rick Longley described the attack.

"We were just walking up to the station and there was a loud bang and a guy, someone, crashed a car and took some pedestrians out.

"They were just laying there and then the whole crowd just surged around the corner by the gates just opposite Big Ben.

"A guy came past my right shoulder with a big knife and just started plunging it into the policeman.

"I have never seen anything like that. I just can't believe what I just saw."

An air ambulance landed in Parliament Square and a regular ambulance came in through the front gates as medics rushed to help.

Armed police cleared the area around the incident and Parliament Square and surrounding streets were closed to traffic while Parliament went into lockdown.

As the sitting in the House of Commons was suspended, Commons Leader David Lidington told MPs: "What I am able to say to the House is there has been a serious incident within the estate.

"It seems that a police officer has been stabbed, that the alleged assailant was shot by armed police."

Witnesses described seeing a heavy-set man carrying a knife and running towards the Houses of Parliament.

Jayne Wilkinson said: "We were taking photos of Big Ben and we saw all the people running towards us, and then there was an Asian guy in about his 40s carrying a knife about seven or eight inches long.

"And then there were three shots fired, and then we crossed the road and looked over. The man was on the floor with blood.

"He had a lightweight jacket on, dark trousers and a shirt.

"He was running through those gates, towards Parliament, and the police were chasing him."

Frazer Clarke, 25, from Burton-on-Trent, one of a group of young boxers who witnessed the attack, said: "We heard a loud bang and screaming and then I noticed some smoke. I thought it was a car crash.

"I looked towards the front gate and people were running, a police officer and a fellow coming to the gate with two knives.

"He was stabbing the police officer with the knives.

"He was wearing black tracksuit bottoms, a black or grey top and what looked like work boots.

"The police officer was stumbling and fell on the floor.

"Another police officer walked toward the guy with the knives and shot him twice."

Another witness, from South Africa and living in Ireland, said she and two friends went towards the palace gates and saw a man lying on the floor inside.

She said: "I saw a body, they were working on the floor. They were just inside the gates.

"He had one gunshot wound to the right side of his chest. I don't know if he was dead or alive, but people were working on him.

"I saw that needed medical attention and I asked if I could help because I am a doctor, but they said they were fine."

French teenagers injured on school visit

Three French teenagers on a school visit to London were among those injured on Westminster Bridge.

Le Telegramme reported the students, aged between 15 and 16, were wounded in the attack with one ending up on the roof of the car.

The pupils from a school in Concarneau, Brittany, had arrived in London on Sunday evening.

A spokeswoman for the Lycee Saint-Joseph de Concarneau confirmed three students were injured but said she could give no further information.

France's prime minister confirmed French students were among those injured on bridge.

Bernard Cazeneuve tweeted: "Solidarity with our British friends, terribly stricken, full support to the injured french students, their families and their comrades."

Meanwhile, French President Francois Hollande said: "Terrorism concerns us all and France knows how the British people are suffering today.

"We are doing everything to find out if French nationals have been involved."

Edge Hill University students injured

Four university students were injured as they were caught up in the attack on Westminster Bridge.

They were among a group of 13 students and a lecturer from Edge Hill University, in Ormskirk, who were on the first day of a two-day educational visit to the Houses of Parliament.

The students had just left Parliament and made their way on to Westminster Bridge after they had watched Prime Minister's Questions and met with MPs.

Among those injured were Owen Lambert, 18, from Morecambe, Lancs, who needed stitches to a head wound, and Travis Frain, from Darwen.

Dr John Cater, Vice Chancellor of Edge Hill University, told BBC North West Tonight: "They had just actually finished their session, were leaving the Parliament building and in the Westminster Bridge area where we understand ... they were involved in the incident.

"We understand that two students have been taken to hospital but as walking wounded - one with a head wound and one with a wrist injury. There are two other students who have minor injuries who are with police and acting as witnesses.

"The good news is that the other nine students are now back in a hostel receiving support and will return to the North West tomorrow."

He added: "The details are invariably hazy I guess.Our assumption is that they were either knocked over by other people or struck by the vehicle. Obviously all of them will be somewhat traumatised by what they have seen as well."

Earlier, the university tweeted: "All students and lecturer in Westminster have been accounted for and are being supported by the university."

Read more

Northern Ireland MPs caught up in 'terrorist incident'

Theresa May ushered away

Prime Minister Theresa May was seen being ushered into a silver Jaguar in the grounds of the palace as what sounded like gunfire rang out at around 2.45pm.

A Downing Street source confirmed she was "OK".

Eyewitness Rick Longley described the attack.

"We were just walking up to the station and there was a loud bang and a guy, someone, crashed a car and took some pedestrians out.

"They were just laying there and then the whole crowd just surged around the corner by the gates just opposite Big Ben.

"A guy came past my right shoulder with a big knife and just started plunging it into the policeman.

"I have never seen anything like that. I just can't believe what I just saw."

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said: "There has been a serious incident near to Parliament Square this afternoon which is being treated as a terrorist attack until the police know otherwise.

"I have spoken to the Acting Commissioner. The Metropolitan Police Service is dealing with the incident and an urgent investigation is under way. My thoughts are with those affected and their families.

"I would like to express my thanks to the police and emergency services who work so hard to keep us safe and show tremendous bravery in exceptionally difficult circumstances.

"For the latest information please visit news.met.police.uk."

An air ambulance landed in Parliament Square and a regular ambulance came in through the front gates as medics rushed to help.

Armed police cleared the area around the incident and Parliament Square and surrounding streets were closed to traffic while Parliament went into lockdown.

As the sitting in the House of Commons was suspended, Commons Leader David Lidington told MPs: "What I am able to say to the House is there has been a serious incident within the estate.

"It seems that a police officer has been stabbed, that the alleged assailant was shot by armed police."

Witnesses described seeing a heavy-set man carrying a knife and running towards the Houses of Parliament.

Jayne Wilkinson said: "We were taking photos of Big Ben and we saw all the people running towards us, and then there was an Asian guy in about his 40s carrying a knife about seven or eight inches long.

"And then there were three shots fired, and then we crossed the road and looked over. The man was on the floor with blood.

"He had a lightweight jacket on, dark trousers and a shirt.

"He was running through those gates, towards Parliament, and the police were chasing him."

Her partner David Turner added: "There was a stampede of people running out.

"You saw the people and you thought 'what the hell is going on'."

A witness, who did not want to be named, saw Mrs May and her undercover police detail near the area of Parliament where ministerial cars are parked.

He said there were undercover officers in a 4x4 vehicle in the car park.

"We just heard gunshots inside Parliament," he said.

"It looked like they are taking her away."

Another witness, from South Africa and living in Ireland, said she and two friends went towards the palace gates and saw a man lying on the floor inside.

She said: "I saw a body, they were working on the floor. They were just inside the gates.

"He had one gunshot wound to the right side of his chest. I don't know if he was dead or alive, but people were working on him.

"I saw that needed medical attention and I asked if I could help because I am a doctor, but they said they were fine.

"Then the police moved us back."

Daily Mail political editor Jason Groves witnessed the incident from his office window.

He said: "I heard a bang coming from Westminster Tube station, looked out the window, there's a commotion, armed cops were running, the crowd of people outside were running as if for their lives.

"A guy comes through the vehicle entrance wielding something, towards a copper, the copper tumbles.

"The man's running towards Westminster Hall, and then you've got a plain clothes copper comes running out.

"Not from the gate, but from the inside, shoots him once from maybe 10 or 15 yards away with a handgun, and then gets closer to him and shoots him again from over him and he doesn't get up."

Mrs May's official spokesman said: "The Prime Minister was brought back to Number 10 from Parliament. She is currently monitoring the situation."

Cobra meeting

Prime Minister Theresa May has chaired a meeting of the Government's emergency Cobra committee to discuss the immediate response to the bloody incident at the Palace of Westminster.

The 45-minute meeting brought together senior ministers as well as senior police officers, representatives of the security agencies and London Mayor Sadiq Khan.

Mrs May ordered flags to be lowered to half mast over Downing Street as a mark of respect to the innocent people who lost their lives at Westminster.

Among ministers attending this evening's meeting were Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon, security minister Ben Wallace, Transport Secretary Chris Grayling, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt and foreign minister Sir Alan Duncan.

Absent were Home Secretary Amber Rudd, who was away on an official trip to Pakistan, and Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, in the US for a summit of nations involved in the fight against the Islamic State terror group.

The meeting in Whitehall was addressed by Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley, Britain's most senior anti-terrorist police officer.

Speaking outside 10 Downing Street after chairing a meeting of the Government's Cobra emergencies committee, Mrs May paid tribute to the "exceptional men and women" of the police force who responded to the attack.

She confirmed that a single attacker drove a car into pedestrians walking on Westminster Bridge, killing two of them, before running with a knife through the front gates of the Palace of Westminster, where he killed a police officer before being shot dead.

She vowed that "the forces of evil" would never be allowed "to drive us apart".

Mrs May said that any attempt to defeat the values that Parliament stands for was "doomed to failure".

And she vowed: "We will all move forward together, never giving in to terror and never allowing the voices of hate and evil to drive us apart."

The UK's terror threat level would remain at "severe", Mrs May said.

She praised the bravery of the police officers "who keep us and our democratic institutions safe".

"Our thoughts and prayers go out to all who have been affected, to the victims themselves and to their families and friends, who waved their loved ones off but will not now be welcoming them home.

"For those of us who were in Parliament at the time of this attack, these events provide a particular reminder of the exceptional bravery of our police and security services who risk their lives to keep us safe.

"Once again today, these exceptional men and women ran towards the danger, even as they encouraged others to move the other way."

She said Parliament would "meet as normal" on Thursday.

"We will come together as normal and Londoners and others from around the world who have come here to visit this great city will get up and go about their day as normal."

Mrs May said that the UK's security threat level, which has stood at "severe" for some time, will not be raised as a result of the incident.

The exact details of the "sick and depraved terrorist attack on the streets of our capital this afternoon" were still emerging, she said, adding: "Having been updated by police and security officials, I can confirm that this appalling incident began when a single attacker drove his vehicle into pedestrians walking across Westminster Bridge, killing two people and injuring many more, including three police officers.

"This attacker, who was armed with a knife, then ran towards Parliament, where he was confronted by the police officers who keep us and our democratic institutions safe.

"Tragically, one officer was killed. The terrorist was also shot dead.

"The United Kingdom's threat level has been set at severe for some time and this will not change.

"Acting Deputy Commissioner Rowley will give a further operational update later this evening."

She said Parliament would "meet as normal" on Thursday.

"We will come together as normal and Londoners and others from around the world who have come here to visit this great city will get up and go about their day as normal."

Mrs May said that the UK's security threat level, which has stood at "severe" for some time, will not be raised as a result of the incident.

The exact details of the "sick and depraved terrorist attack on the streets of our capital this afternoon" were still emerging, she said, adding: "Having been updated by police and security officials, I can confirm that this appalling incident began when a single attacker drove his vehicle into pedestrians walking across Westminster Bridge, killing two people and injuring many more, including three police officers.

"This attacker, who was armed with a knife, then ran towards Parliament, where he was confronted by the police officers who keep us and our democratic institutions safe.

"Tragically, one officer was killed. The terrorist was also shot dead.

"The United Kingdom's threat level has been set at severe for some time and this will not change.

"Acting Deputy Commissioner Rowley will give a further operational update later this evening."

The Cobra committee brings together government ministers with senior officials of the emergency services and security and intelligence agencies.

Meeting in a briefing room of the Cabinet Office on Whitehall, Cobra co-ordinates the high-level response to serious incidents, and has previously gathered after terrorist atrocities, including the July 7 attacks on the London transport network and the murder of soldier Lee Rigby.

The White House said US President Donald Trump spoke with Mrs May to "offer his condolences on today's terror attack in London and his praise for the effective response of security forces and first responders.

"He pledged the full cooperation and support of the United States Government in responding to the attack and bringing those responsible to justice."

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said: "On behalf of the United States, I express my condolences to the victims and their families.

"The American people send their thoughts and prayers to the people of the United Kingdom.

"We condemn these horrific acts of violence, and whether they were carried out by troubled individuals or by terrorists, the victims know no difference."

Cobra is named after Cabinet Office Briefing Room A, in which it often meets. In recent times, Downing Street has begun referring to it as COBR, as it sometimes meets in Briefing Room B.

Politicians describe chaotic scenes

Tory peer Pauline Neville-Jones, a former security minister, told the Press Association from the locked down office of an MP: "I was coming in from the dedicated entrance at Westminster Tube station into Parliament and as I was going in to the entrance I was faced with a large number of people running in the opposite direction shouting 'get out get out'.

"So I went out went upstairs where I saw the car which appears to have carried the assailant.

"On the pavement on the opposite side of the road, crushed up against the railings, you could see two people, one of them under the wheels of the car the other further away, who had clearly been hit by it.

"There were already people kneeling down and treating them when the police arrived and ambulances arrived, so it was very prompt.

"I must have been there only three or four minutes after the assailant left the car.

"There were a lot of people but by then the street scene was quite calm, although there were people tending those who had obviously been injured.

"We came around the corner into Whitehall and then back into Parliament.

"I did conclude, on the face of it, that this was a terrorist incident.

"And it's the kind of terrorist incident that's very hard to deal with because, as we now know, this is the kind of incident that can be mounted without necessarily leaving any kind of trail which the police and security services and intelligence services can actually pick up to prevent it.

"It's very simple to organise, it appears to be one individual with a car and with a knife."

Ms Neville-Jones said the police will have trained to respond to such an incident.

She said: "Yes. It's very hard to prevent, what the police and blue light services do plan for is very quick recovery, and that's to say moving in extremely fast in order to capture as much information as is available straight away, not allowing any assailants to get away, and keeping the people who are being attacked, and whatever institution it is, keeping the people in it safe.

"All of that worked."

UUP peer Lord Empey: British people will not be cowed

Ulster Unionist Peer Lord Empey has said that the British people will not be cowed by any terror threat and will stand together as a United Kingdom.

Speaking from Westminster, Lord Empey said: "Today’s shocking attack on the Palace of Westminster will be condemned by all right-thinking people.

"My deepest sympathies go out to the families, friends and colleagues of three innocent victims – including an extremely brave police officer - who have lost their lives and I hope that the injured can make a full recovery. Our thoughts and prayers are with all those who have been affected.

"History demonstrates that the British people do not frighten easily. This was an attack on the Mother of Parliaments, the seat of our democracy, our nation's Capital City.

"If anyone thinks that this type of attack will frighten or intimidate our citizens, they are badly mistaken. London has faced terrorism before and life defiantly carried on. The British people will face down any threat that comes our way. Our democracy and our nation will endure, as one United Kingdom."

SDLP MP Margaret Ritchie: Reminder of the threat that police officers face

SDLP South Down MP Margaret Ritchie has said her thoughts are with victims. Ms Ritchie has been in Westminster throughout the attack. The SDLP all three of the party's MPs as well as their staff are safe.

Ms Ritchie said: "The events at Westminster today are a tragic reminder of the threat that police officers and public representatives face simply for doing their jobs. My thoughts and prayers are first and foremost with the victims of this attack. Many are injured and a number have already lost their lives. A tragedy has unfolded here today.

"I am extremely grateful for the dedicated professionalism of House of Commons staff and police who have taken control here and ensured the safety of others at the scene including many tourists and children."

President of Ireland condemns attack

President of Ireland Michael D Higgins has sent a sympathy message over the Westminster terror attack.

The Irish Republic's head of state is to write to the Queen and London Mayor Sadiq Khan to express the sympathy "of the Irish people with the families of those who have lost their lives and to those who have been injured".

President Higgins said he wanted to express "the sympathy, condolences and solidarity of the Irish people with our neighbours at this difficult time".

Ireland's Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan also extended sympathies.

"I wish to extend my condolences and on behalf of my Government, my support to the people of London and the UK. Terror and violence will never triumph over democracy," he said.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny took to Twitter to express solidarity and condolences.

"On behalf of Government I send our support to PM May & British people. Condolences to the families of the victims and thoughts with the injured," he said.

No Irish are believed to have been caught up in the attack.

Echoes of attacks in Europe

Investigations into the emergency at Westminster are in their infancy, but the early details echo terrorist incidents in Europe and chime with warnings from security chiefs about possible attack methods.

Although Britain has until now remained unscathed amid the recent flurry of atrocities on the continent, senior figures have repeatedly cautioned that the UK remains a major target.

Earlier this month it was revealed that 13 potential attacks have been foiled since the murder of Lee Rigby in 2013, while counter-terrorism units are running more than 500 live investigations at any time.

The official threat level for international terrorism has been at severe - meaning an attack is "highly likely" - for more than two years.

And the events at Westminster appear to tally with warnings about the threat posed by more rudimentary tactics, such as lone or small numbers of assailants carrying out knife attacks or using vehicles as weapons, in addition to more large-scale bomb or firearms plots.

The possibility that vehicles could be used to inflict multiple casualties were confirmed in horrifying fashion in the Nice attacks in July last year when dozens of people were killed when a lorry ploughed into a large crowd watching a fireworks display to mark the Bastille Day holiday.

Months later an attacker drove a lorry into a crowded Christmas market in central Berlin, killing several people and injuring dozens more.

Both Islamic State and al Qaida have previously urged followers to use vehicles to carry out attacks.

A report published in December by Europol, the EU's law enforcement agency, said the bloc was facing a range of terrorist threats and attacks including the use of bladed weapons and vehicles.

In January former terror laws watchdog David Anderson spoke of a "realisation on the part of the terrorists that they don't need sophisticated explosives plots to take great numbers of lives".

He added: "People using automatic weapons, heavy goods vehicles, even knives, machetes, and securing all the publicity they could possibly want from deploying relatively simple weapons such as that."

Scotland Yard counter-terror chief Mark Rowley said earlier this month that police are concerned about "everything from fairly simple attacks with knives or using vehicles all the way through to the more complex firearms attacks".

Security services and police will be starting to piece together the possible motivations behind the attack on Wednesday, but the location - the heart of British democracy - will be seen as highly significant.

It comes days after the Metropolitan Police staged a mock "pleasure boat" attack on the Thames to test the emergency response to such an emergency.

Casualty bureau

A casualty bureau has been set and people in the UK worried about loved ones should call 0800 0560944 or 0207 1580010.

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