Information is still trickling in but there is now no doubt a major terrorist attack has taken place in London.
Here is what we know so far:
(1) a man armed with a knife managed to penetrate the security barrier around the UK Parliament building (‘the Palace of Westminster’). There are some reports that he did this after a car intentionally crashed into the barrier. The man managed to kill a police officer before being himself gunned down by armed police. It is not confirmed whether or not he is still alive.
(2) a car – presumably the same car that crashed the security barrier – escaped across Westminster bridge, apparently ploughing into a crowd of onlookers. Several people have wounded and at least two people were killed. The total number of people killed during this incident is currently at four. It seems that one person fell off the bridge into the river Thames but has been rescued. However she is said to be severely wounded and her condition is said to be critical.
(3) Prime Minister Theresa May was bundled into an official car and driven away. The other MPs present in the House of Commons at the time of the attack have however been sealed sealed up inside the Palace of Westminster, which is being thoroughly searched.
The attack seems to have been timed for Prime Minister’s Questions, the most important weekly set piece event of the British Parliament, when the Prime Minister (Theresa May) answers questions in the House of Commons chamber put to her by the Leader of the Opposition (Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn) and other MPs. That guaranteed that all the leading members of the government and the opposition including Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn and most of the other ministers would be present in Parliament at the time of the attack.
There is no news of any of the terrorists in the escaping car so far being caught. Much of London is presently in lock-down. Where I am resident (in north west London, some distance from the Palace of Westminster) police sirens are clearly audible and police cars are circulating.
This looks like the sort of incident that Jihadi terrorists have recently staged in Brussels, Paris and elsewhere in Europe, with the important difference that unlike those incidents, which involved indiscriminate attacks that specifically targeted civilians, this attack targeted the British Parliament and therefore the heart of Britain’s political system.
We will provide you with further updates as more news comes in.
POSTSCRIPT: Immediately following publication of the above information provided by the police confirmed that the car did not escape and that the attack on the bystanders on Westminster bridge took place as the car drove through them in order to crash into the security barrier around the Parliament building. At the moment the police believe there was only one attacker, who was shot dead by police after he exited the car and killed a policeman with a knife.