Monday 24 July 2017

Westminster attack: What we know so far

By Zaina Alibhai

A counter-terrorism investigation is already under way, police said.

Four people have been killed in a terror attack in Westminster in which a motorist mowed down pedestrians before stabbing a policeman.

Here’s what we know so far about the attack, which is being treated by police as a terror incident.

What exactly happened?

It appears the knifeman drove a grey Hyundai i40 across Westminster Bridge, mowing down pedestrians along the way. He then crashed the vehicle into railings outside the parliamentary courtyard and ran through the gates, armed with two large knives.

There, witnesses saw him stab a policeman before being shot by armed officers as he approached a second officer within yards of the Houses of Parliament.

How many casualties are there?

Scotland Yard’s top anti-terror officer Mark Rowley confirmed that four people died, including the officer who was stabbed and his attacker.

The two other fatalities are believed to have died on the bridge, while at least 20 are said to have been injured.

Junior doctor Colleen Anderson from St Thomas’ Hospital had earlier confirmed that people were being treated for “catastrophic” injuries.

Three French children on a school trip to London were among those injured on Westminster Bridge, with a spokeswoman for the Lycee Saint-Joseph de Concarneau confirming the injuries of the students.

What happens now?

Prime Minister Theresa May is to chair a meeting of the Government’s emergency Cobra committee to discuss the immediate response to the attack later today.

Police have announced a counter-terrorism investigation is already under way as Commander BJ Harrington said: “A senior national coordinator has declared this a terrorist incident.

“Although we remain open-minded to the motive, a counter-terrorism investigation is already under way led by the Met counter-terrorism command.”

Meanwhile, both the House of Commons and the House of Lords will sit at their normal times on Thursday, parliamentary authorities have announced.

How have world leaders reacted?

US President Donald Trump described the incident as “big news” while State Department spokesman Mark Toner said: “We are following the concerning situation outside the UK Parliament.

“Our hearts go out to those affected. We stand ready to assist in any way the UK authorities would find helpful.

“The safety and security of US citizens overseas is one of our priorities. Our embassy in London is monitoring the situation closely.”

Several EU leaders sent messages of concern and sympathy on social media.

Among them was Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel, who earlier in the day had taken part in commemorations to mark the first anniversary of a terror attack in Brussels. He said: “Our condolences are with those who mourn and all who are affected in London. Belgium stands with UK in fight against terror.”

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