A terrorist attack outside Parliament in Westminster has left four dead, including the attacker, and injured at least 40 others.
Police shot dead a man who attacked officers in front of the parliament building in London, after a grey 4×4 mowed down more than a dozen people on Westminster Bridge.
At least two people died on the bridge, and a number of others were seriously hurt, according to the BBC. The victims are understood to include a group of French teenagers.
Journalists at the scene saw a police officer being stabbed outside Parliament, who was later confirmed to have died. His name was confirmed late on Wednesday night as Keith Palmer, 48.
The assailant was shot by other officers, and is also dead. The Met Police confirmed they are treating the events as a “terrorist incident”. There was one assailant, whose identity is known to the police but has not yet been released.
Theresa May gave a statement outside Number 10 after chairing a COBRA committee. “The terrorists chose to strike at the heart of our Capital City, where people of all nationalities, religions and cultures come together to celebrate the values of liberty, democracy and freedom of speech,” she said.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan has tweeted his thanks for the “tremendous bravery” of the emergency services.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn also released a short statement. He said: “Reports suggest the ongoing incident in Westminster this afternoon is extremely serious. Our thoughts are with the victims of this horrific attack, their families and friends. The police and security staff have taken swift action to ensure the safety of the public, MPs and staff, and we are grateful to them.”
After the incident this afternoon, journalists shared footage of injured people in the street, and pictures of a car which crashed into the railings outside Big Ben. After the shots rang out, Parliament was placed under lockdown, with the main rooms including the Commons Chamber and the tearoom sealed off. The streets around Parliament were also cordoned off and Westminster Tube station was closed.
Those caught up in the incident include visitors to Parliament, such as schoolchildren, who spent the afternoon trapped alongside politicians and political journalists. Hours after the incident, the security services began evacuating MPs and others trapped inside Parliament in small groups.
Group of school children from Birmingham just let out of public gallery, they got up 6am to be here, MPs waving them goodbye
— Steve Reed (@SteveReedMP) March 22, 2017
The MP Richard Benyon tweeted: “We are locked in Chamber of House of Commons.” Shadow education secretary Angela Rayner tweeted: “I’m inside Parliament and me and my staff are safe.”
We are locked in Chamber of House of Commons
— Richard Benyon (@RichardBenyonMP) March 22, 2017
ALL LOCKED UP IN chamber ! pic.twitter.com/Qxi5EywtVF
— Barry Sheerman (@BarrySheerman) March 22, 2017
The MP Jo Stevens was one of the first to confirm reports that a police officer had been attacked. She tweeted: “We’ve just been told a police officer here has been stabbed & the assailant shot.”
George Eaton, the New Statesman politics editor, was in the building. He has written about his experience here:
From the window of the parliamentary Press Gallery, I have just seen police shoot a man who charged at officers while carrying what appeared to be a knife. A large crowd was seen fleeing the man before he entered the parliamentary estate. After several officers evaded him he was swiftly shot by armed police. Ministers have been evacuated and journalists ordered to remain at their desks.
Police have just shot a man who was attacking officers at parliament’s entrance.
— George Eaton (@georgeeaton) March 22, 2017
According to The Telegraph, foreign minister Tobias Ellwood, a former soldier, tried to resucitate the police officer who later died. Meanwhile another MP, Mary Creagh, who was going into Westminster to vote, managed to persuade the Westminster tube staff to shut down the station and prevent tourists from wandering on to the scene of the attack.
A helicopter, ambulances and paramedics soon crowded the scene. There were reports of many badly injured victims. However, one woman was pulled from the River Thames alive.
A woman was pulled alive from the River Thames and is being treated by paramedics on a nearby pier. It’s thought she was on bridge at time
— Chris Ship (@chrisshipitv) March 22, 2017
MPs trapped inside the building shared messages of sympathy for the victims on Westminster Bridge, and in defence of democracy. The Labour MP Jon Trickett has tweeted that “democracy will not be intimidated”. MPs in the Chamber stood up to witness the removal of the mace, the symbol of Parliamentary democracy, which symbolises that Parliament is adjourned.
I and my staff are all safe. Democracy will not be intimidated by terror. We owe our deepest thanks to police,the emergency services & nhs
— Jon Trickett (@jon_trickett) March 22, 2017
MP’s stand as the mace, the symbol of our parliamentary democracy, is removed as the House adjourns
— Liam Byrne (@LiamByrneMP) March 22, 2017
Brendan Cox, the widower of the late, murdered MP Jo Cox, has tweeted: “Whoever has attacked our parliament for whatever motive will not succeed in dividing us. All of my thoughts with those injured.”
Whoever has attacked our parliament for whatever motive will not succeed in dividing us. All of my thoughts with those injured.
— Brendan Cox (@MrBrendanCox) March 22, 2017
Hillary Benn, the Labour MP, has released a video from inside Parliament conveying a message from MPs to the families of the victims.
— Hilary Benn (@hilarybennmp) March 22, 2017
Former Prime Minister David Cameron has also expressed his sympathy.
My thoughts with the families of those injured & killed. Those seeking to attack our democracy with these barbarous methods will never win.
— David Cameron (@David_Cameron) March 22, 2017
While many MPs praised the security services, they also seemed stunned by the surreal scenes inside Parliament, where counter-terrorism police led evacuations.
Armed officers ordered myself and Security Minister into lobby at gun point. Terrifying
— Anna Soubry MP (@Anna_Soubry) March 22, 2017
Those trapped inside Parliament included 40 children visiting on a school trip, and a group of boxers, according to the Press Association’s Laura Harding. The teachers tried to distract the children by leading them in song and giving them lessons about Parliament.
Schoolchildren in high vis jackets being led in song by their teachers. Security yelling at people for taking photos.
— Laura Harding (@LauraSHarding) March 22, 2017
In Scotland, the debate over whether to have a second independence referendum initially continued, despite the news, amid bolstered security. After pressure from Labour leader Kezia Dugdale, the session was later suspended. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon tweeted that her “thoughts are with everyone in and around Westminster”. The Welsh Assembly also suspended proceedings.
A spokesman for New Scotland Yard, the police headquarters, said: “There is an ongoing investigation led by the counter-terrorism command and we would ask anybody who has images or film of the incident to pass it onto police. We know there are a number of casualties, including police officers, but at this stage we cannot confirm numbers or the nature of these injuries.”
Three students from a high school from Concarneau, Britanny, were among the people hurt on the bridge, according to French local newspaper Le Telegramme (translated by my colleague Pauline). They were walking when the car hit them, and are understood to be in a critical condition.
The French Prime Minister Bernard Cazeneuve has also tweeted his solidarity with the UK and the victims, saying: “Solidarity with our British friends, terribly hit, our full support to the French high schoolers who are hurt, to their families and schoolmates.”
Solidarité avec nos amis britanniques terriblement frappés, plein soutien aux élèves français blessés, à leurs familles et leurs camarades.
— Bernard Cazeneuve (@BCazeneuve) March 22, 2017