Tuesday 26 September 2017

London terror: Death toll rises to five people - including attacker - as eight arrested on suspicion of preparation of terrorist acts

  • Five people dead - Keith Palmer, Aysha Frade, Kurt Cochran, 75-year-old man - and attacker, Khalid Masood
  • Those injured included 12 Britons, three French children, two Romanians, four South Koreans, two Greeks, and one each from Germany, Poland, Ireland, China, Italy and the United States
  • Eight people - three women and five men - have been arrested and a number of addresses raided
  • Hyundai used to mow down pedestrians on Westminster Bridge was hired from a car hire firm in Birmingham
  • The attacker was British-born and investigated by MI5 some years ago over concerns of violent extremism
  • Islamic State has claimed the attacker was one of its "soldiers"
Kurt Cochran, Keith Palmer and Aysha Frade - The victims of the London terror attack
Kurt Cochran, Keith Palmer and Aysha Frade - The victims of the London terror attack
Emergency services at the scene outside the Palace of Westminster, London, after a policeman was stabbed and his apparent attacker shot by officers in a major security incident at the Houses of Parliament. Photo: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire
Police outside the Palace of Westminster, London. Inset: Aysha Frade (43) died of her injuries
Scenes following the London attack (main and insets right) and Keith Palmer (inset left)
Armed police respond outside Parliament during the attack on Westminster in London, Britain March 22, 2017. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth
PC Keith Palmer who was killed during the terrorist attack on the Houses of Parliament, London Credit: Metropolitan Police/PA Wire
Police close to the Palace of Westminster, London, after policeman has been stabbed and his apparent attacker shot by officers in a major security incident at the Houses of Parliament. Victoria Jones/PA Wire
Injured people are assisted after an incident on Westminster Bridge in London, March 22, 2017. REUTERS/Toby Melville
An injured man is assisted after an incident on Westminster Bridge in London, Britain March 22, 2017. REUTERS/Toby Melville
An Air Ambulance outside the Palace of Westminster, London, after sounds similar to gunfire have been heard close to the Palace of Westminster. A man with a knife has been seen within the confines of the Palace, eyewitnesses said: Victoria Jones/PA Wire
Police close to the Palace of Westminster, London, after sounds similar to gunfire have been heard close to the Palace of Westminster.
Police outside the Palace of Westminster, London, after sounds similar to gunfire have been heard close to the Palace of Westminster.
Police outside the Palace of Westminster, London, after sounds similar to gunfire have been heard close to the Palace of Westminster.
Police outside the Palace of Westminster, London, after sounds similar to gunfire have been heard close to the Palace of Westminster.
An Air Ambulance outside the Palace of Westminster, London, after sounds similar to gunfire have been heard close to the Palace of Westminster.
An Air Ambulance outside the Palace of Westminster, London, after sounds similar to gunfire have been heard close to the Palace of Westminster
An Air Ambulance outside the Palace of Westminster, London, after sounds similar to gunfire have been heard close to the Palace of Westminster.
Police outside the Palace of Westminster, London, after sounds similar to gunfire have been heard close to the Palace of Westminster.
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

The Westminster terror attack has claimed its fourth innocent victim, as police confirmed that a 75-year-old man has died in hospital.

A Scotland Yard spokesman said: "The man had been receiving medical treatment in hospital following the attack and life support was withdrawn this evening.

"Next of kin have been informed and are receiving support from specially trained family liaison officers."

Earlier, the man police believe to be responsible for the terrorist attack in Westminster was formally identified as Khalid Masood (52) Scotland Yard said.

Scotland Yard said Masood had previous convictions for assaults, including GBH, possession of offensive weapons and public order offences. He had not been convicted of any terrorism offences.

Earlier the Islamic State terror group claimed through its news agency that the Westminster attacker was a "soldier of the Islamic State".

Emergency services at the scene outside the Palace of Westminster, London, after a policeman was stabbed and his apparent attacker shot by officers in a major security incident at the Houses of Parliament. Photo: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire
Emergency services at the scene outside the Palace of Westminster, London, after a policeman was stabbed and his apparent attacker shot by officers in a major security incident at the Houses of Parliament. Photo: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire
Police close to the Palace of Westminster, London, after policeman has been stabbed and his apparent attacker shot by officers in a major security incident at the Houses of Parliament: Yui Mok/PA Wire
Police close to the Palace of Westminster, London, after policeman has been stabbed and his apparent attacker shot by officers in a major security incident at the Houses of Parliament. Victoria Jones/PA Wire
Police outside the Palace of Westminster, London, after sounds similar to gunfire have been heard close to the Palace of Westminster.

Arrests

Eight people, three women and five men, have been arrested in London and Birmingham on suspicion of preparation of terrorist acts by detectives investigating the Westminster attack, Scotland Yard said.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission has said "no police officers are under investigation" over the Westminster terror attack, but it is "currently investigating the circumstances".

Searches were carried out at three addresses in Birmingham and one each in east London, Brighton, south-east London and Carmarthenshire.

Westminster terror alert
Westminster terror alert
An Air Ambulance outside the Palace of Westminster, London, after sounds similar to gunfire have been heard close to the Palace of Westminster.

A 39-year-old woman was arrested in east London while a 21-year-old woman and a 23-year-old man were held at one address in Birmingham.

A 26-year-old woman and three men aged 28, 27 and 26 were arrested at another address in Birmingham.

They were all held overnight while a 58-year-old man was arrested on Thursday at a third address in Birmingham.

Investigators are working on the basis that the attacker acted alone.

PC Keith Palmer who was killed during the terrorist attack on the Houses of Parliament, London Credit: Metropolitan Police/PA Wire
PC Keith Palmer who was killed during the terrorist attack on the Houses of Parliament, London Credit: Metropolitan Police/PA Wire

Car firm Enterprise confirmed the Hyundai used in the attack was one of its vehicles.

Islamic State claimed the killer was one of its "soldiers".

A review of security arrangements at Westminster was launched.

Victims

The victims admitted to hospital included 12 Britons, three French children, two Romanians, four South Koreans, one German, one Pole, one Irish, one Chinese, one Italian, one American and two Greeks, she said.

UK Prime Minister Theresa May said the government was in close contact with counterparts in all the countries affected. Ms May visited victims in hospital this evening.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny spoke to British Prime Minister Theresa May this evening following the horrific attack in London.

He offered the sympathy of the Irish Government to the British people and offered any assistance that may be required.

The Prime Minister confirmed that the injuries suffers by an Irish person were not life-threatening.

They also spoke about the ongoing negotiations in Stormont towards the reestablishment of power sharing in Northern Ireland.

The call lasted approximately ten minutes.

This afternoon the third victim of the Westminster terror attack was named as US tourist Kurt Cochran from Utah.

US president Donald Trump has hailed a tourist killed in the Westminster terror attack as a "great American".

Kurt Cochran from Utah was in London celebrating his 25th wedding anniversary with his wife Melissa Payne Cochran when the terrorist struck.

President Trump tweeted: "A great American, Kurt Cochran, was killed in the London terror attack. My prayers and condolences are with his family and friends."

Mr Cochran's wife was also injured in the attack. She sustained a broken leg and rib, but it is not believed to be critical.

Shantell Payne wrote on Facebook: "With a heavy heart I must pass the sad news of our beautiful brother, father, husband, son and friend Kurt Cochran."

She continued: "This pain is so heart wrenching and raw it has rocked our family and all that knew him to its core. We will miss Kurt beyond words. We love you Kurt. RIP. Melissa Payne Cochran is in the hospital with a broken leg, rib and a cut on her head but will recover from her injuries. Sending all the love to her for a quick recovery."

Kurt Cochran.jpg
Kurt Cochran (left)

Earlier it was revealed that Spanish teacher Aysha Frade (43) died of her injuries after a car ploughed into pedestrians on Westminster Bridge.

The Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Charlie Flanagan TD, has confirmed that one Irish person was amongst those injured in yesterday’s terrorist attack in London.

Minister Flanagan said that his Department has, through the Irish Embassy in London, offered and stands ready to provide consular assistance.

Independent.ie understands that the injuries sustained by the Irish person, believed to be a woman, are not considered to be life-threatening.

Four people were killed in the incident yesterday afternoon and in the region of 40 injured as an assailant drove a car on the footpath on Westminster Bridge, before crashing the car at the British parliament and getting out to stab  a policeman to death before the attacker was shot.

The British Prime Minister also told MPs that murdered PC Keith Palmer was "every inch a hero and his actions will never be forgotten".

She added that the British Parliament was sending out the message following Wednesday's attack: "We will never waver in the face of terrorism."

Mrs May addressed MPs as they gathered at the usual time inside the Palace of Westminster, which a day before had come under attack from a knife-wielding terrorist.

An hour after MPs had stood for a minute's silence in honour of the innocent people killed in the attack, Mrs May delivered a statement with details of the atrocity.

Mrs May said the attacker had been identified as someone known by police and MI5, and the working assumption was that he was inspired by Islamist terrorism. The BBC is reporting that he was British-born.

"Yesterday an act of terrorism tried to silence our democracy, but today we meet as normal, as generations have done before us and as future generations will continue to do, to deliver a simple message: 'We are not afraid and our resolve will never waver in the face of terrorism'," Mrs May said.

"A terrorist came to the place where people of all nationalities and cultures gather to celebrate what it means to be free.

"And he took out his rage indiscriminately against innocent men, women and children.

"This was an attack on free people everywhere, and on behalf of the British people I would like to thank our friends and allies around the world who have made it clear that they stand with us at this time."

Westminster Bridge has reopened less than 24 hours after the attack.

Victims of the Westminster terror attack are being treated in hospitals across London.

King's College Hospital has confirmed its A&E department took in eight patients - six men and two women. Two of these patients are in a critical condition, while six are stable.

At St Thomas' Hospital, two patients - a man and a woman - remain in a stable condition.

Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust declared a major incident at St Mary's Hospital on Wednesday afternoon at 3.55pm. It has yet to release a statement on whether it is currently treating any victims.

The Royal London Hospital said it admitted one patient but a spokeswoman said no further detail could be given on whether that patient died, is being treated or has been discharged.

Earlier, A Spanish teacher on her way to pick up her children from school was named as the first civilian victim of the Westminster attack.

Aysha Frade (43) died of her injuries after a car ploughed into pedestrians on Westminster Bridge.

Spanish media said Mrs Frade had two daughters aged eight and 11 and worked at the nearby DLD College London.

Mrs Frade, a British citizen, had familial links to the Spanish municipality of Betanzos, where relatives were notified of her death on Wednesday afternoon.

Mrs Frade worked in the administration team at DLD College London, just a few hundred metres from Westminster Bridge, principal Rachel Borland confirmed.

Ms Borland said: "We are all deeply shocked and saddened at the news that one of the victims yesterday was a member of our staff, Aysha Frade.

"All our thoughts and our deepest sympathies are with her family.

"We will be offering every support we can to them as they try to come to terms with their devastating loss.

"Aysha worked as a member of our administration team at the college.

"She was highly regarded and loved by our students and by her colleagues.

"She will be deeply missed by all of us."

Mrs Frade was the second victim named following Wednesday’s attack, where PC Palmer was stabbed to death outside the Houses of Parliament.

She and another member of the public, a man in his 50s, died of injuries sustained on Westminster Bridge as an attacker sped his car along the pavement.

Counter-terror detectives are continuing to search for clues about how the armed attacker brought death and destruction to the streets of London on Wednesday.

The number of people killed was revised down from five to four this morning.

Mark Rowley, Scotland Yard's top anti-terror officer said 29 people had been treated in hospital with seven people in a critical condition. Most of these were mown down on Westminster Bridge.

Officer Palmer, 48, a husband and father, whose bravery was hailed by colleagues, friends and the many British MPs whom he was charged with protecting.

His family described him as a "wonderful dad and husband, a loving son, brother and uncle", adding that he was "dedicated to his job and proud to be a police officer, brave and courageous".

Paying tribute to Mr Palmer, Mr Rowley said: "He was someone who left for work today expecting to return home at the end of his shift - and he had every right to expect that would happen."

Mr Rowley declined to name the attacker, but said police suspect he was "inspired by international terrorism" - and that they believed they knew who he was.

Seven people have been arrested in raids in London, Birmingham and elsewhere linked to the Westminster terror attack, Mr Rowley revealed, adding that six addresses were raided overnight.

At the scene of one of the police raids, a flat in Hagley Road, Birmingham, one witness told the Press Association: "The man from London lived here."

Read more: Panic and then a stampede as hundreds ran for their lives when attacker struck

Read more: Con Coughlin: This was the lone wolf attack Britain has long feared

Read more: Hero politician battled to save life of stabbed police officer who later died

Witnesses described scenes of terror when gunfire rang out as the attacker approached a second officer within yards of the Houses of Parliament.

The suspected attacker was pictured being treated by paramedics on a stretcher, as two knives used in the assault lay on the ground nearby.

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

"Heartbroken" former colleague, Conservative MP James Cleverly, paid tribute to the "lovely man" he had known for a quarter of a century.

"I've known Keith for 25 years. We served together in the Royal Artillery before he became a copper. A lovely man, a friend. I'm heartbroken.

"My thoughts are with the family, friends and colleagues of Pc Keith Palmer. A brave man."

British MPs said that the terror attack could have been prevented if police on duty at a well-known security “weak spot” had simply kept it bolted.

The killer managed to get in through a vehicle gate in New Palace Yard – used by the Prime Minister and other members of the Government – because it was not locked.

Footage later emerged of the moment police opened fire after the attacker drove a grey Hyundai i40 across Westminster Bridge before crashing it into railings then running through the gates of the Palace of Westminster.

In other developments, 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.

Mrs May, who was ushered away from Parliament after the attack, was chairing a meeting of the Government's emergency Cobra committee.

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

Witnesses said the attacker was shot by police as he approached a second officer clutching his knife during the incident at about 2.45pm.

Radoslaw Sikorski posted a video to Twitter purporting to show people lying injured in the road on Westminster Bridge.

Mr Sikorski, a senior fellow at Harvard Centre for European Studies, said he saw at least five people lying on the ground after being "mown down" by a car.

"I heard what I thought what I thought was just a collision and then I looked through the window of the taxi and someone down, obviously in great distress," he told the BBC.

"Then I saw a second person down, and I started filming, then I saw three more people down, one of them bleeding profusely."

That carnage was followed very shortly afterwards by a crash outside the House of Parliament, followed by a stabbing of a police officer and a number of shots being fired. A number of officers were injured in the struggle.

Eyewitness Rick Longley described the attack at Palace of Westminster.

"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."

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."

Department of Foreign Affairs - Ireland

President Michael D Higgins expressed the sympathy of the Irish people with the families of those who have lost their lives and to those who have been injured, resulting from the terrible attack in Westminster.

President Higgins will be writing formally to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and to the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, to express the sympathy, condolences and solidarity of the Irish people with our neighbours at this difficult time.

The Irish embassy in London say they are monitoring the situation. Anyone with serious concerns for Irish people can contact +35314082527/+44 20 72352171.

The Department of Foreign Affairs later confirmed that they were not aware of any Irish caught up in the attack.

Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan said: “I unreservedly condemn the attack outside the Houses of Parliament at Westminster today. I deplore the loss of life, and note that the casualties include a police officer killed in the line of duty. 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.

“The Irish Embassy and my Department have been active in London, and at this time we have no reason to believe that any Irish citizens have been affected or are persons over whom there are concerns.”

Britain is on its second-highest level of "severe" meaning an attack by militants is considered highly likely.

In May 2013, two British Islamists stabbed to death soldier Lee Rigby on a street in southeast London.

In July 2005, four British Islamists killed 52 commuters and themselves in suicide bombings on the British capital's transport system in what was London's worst peacetime attack.

More to follow

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