A British police officer was among four people, who died on Wednesday near the British Parliament complex, in what Scotland Yard are describing as a “terrorist incident”.
British Prime Minister Theresa May, who had just completed her weekly Prime Minister s Questions, was seen being ushered into a car as gunfire rang out at Parliament during the incident.
Downing Street said the PM was “safe” as emergency services helicopter was seen landing in Parliament Square, which has been cordoned off and closed to traffic.
“We are treating this as a terrorist incident until we know otherwise,” the Metropolitan Police said on Twitter.
According to reports so far, the incident unfolded as a man tried to gain entry into the Parliament via the main entrance and stabbed a police officer.
Plain-clothes armed officers warned him before shooting a number of rounds. He was later seen being covered by blankets, presumed dead.
In a related incident, a speeding vehicle mowed down several pedestrians on Westminster Bridge nearby before ramming into the side of the House of Commons building.
It remains unclear how many attackers may have been involved in the terror incident.
Commons Leader David Lidington, who suspended the Parliament session as the incident unfolded outside, told MPs the “alleged assailant was shot by armed police”.
“It seems that a police officer has been stabbed, that the alleged assailant was shot by armed police. An air ambulance is currently attending the scene to remove the casualties,” Lidington said.
“There are also reports of further violent incidents in the vicinity of the Palace of Westminster but I hope colleagues on all sides will appreciate that it’d be wrong of me to go into further details until we have confirmation from the police and from the House security authorities about what is going on,” he added.
Press Association political editor Andrew Woodcock, who witnessed the scenes unfolding from his office window, said, “I heard shouts and screams from outside and looked out, and there was a group of maybe 40 or 50 people running round the corner from Bridge Street into Parliament Square.
“They appeared to be running away from something.
“As the group arrived at the Carriage Gates, where policemen are posted at the security entrance, a man suddenly ran out of the crowd and into the yard.
“He seemed to be holding up a long kitchen knife,” he said.
An eye witness, Radoslaw Sikorski, a senior fellow at Harvard’s Centre for European Studies, posted a video to Twitter purporting to show people lying injured in the road on Westminster Bridge.
He wrote: “A car on Westminster Bridge has just mowed down at least 5 people.”
Transport for London said Westminster underground station has been shut at the police’s request, and buses diverted.
Witnesses said the attacker was shot by police as he approached a second officer clutching his knife during the incident.
MPs and peers remain in lockdown inside the Parliament building, along with other workers in buildings in surrounding areas. A number of schoolchildren are also being held back until the police cordon is lifted.
There was chaos in the heart of London as crowds of people were seen running and being pushed back by Scotland Yard officers.
In a statement, Opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn 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.”
India tonight condemned the terror strike in Westminster near the UK Parliament, saying there is no place for terrorism in democracies and civilised societies.
“India strongly condemns Westminster terrorist incident & condoles loss of life. No place in democracies & civilised societies for terrorism (sic),” Spokesperson, Ministry of External Affairs, Gopal Baglay tweeted.
A British police officer was today stabbed and his attacker shot dead near the British Parliament complex, in what Scotland Yard are describing as a “terrorist incident”.
In a related incident, a woman was killed when a speeding grey Hyundai i40 mowed down several pedestrians on Westminster Bridge nearby before ramming into the iron railings on the side of the Palace of Westminster – which houses the House of Commons and Lords as well as the iconic Big Ben.
Indian High Commission in the UK said: “Any Indians injured during the Westminster incident may reach Public Response Unit of HCI ASAP: firstname.lastname@example.org; 02086295950.”
Here are some of visuals captured by Britain’s Sky News and BBC.
(With PTI inputs)
— BBC News (UK) (@BBCNews) March 22, 2017
— BBC Breaking News (@BBCBreaking) March 22, 2017
— BBC Breaking News (@BBCBreaking) March 22, 2017
Aerial footage shows the vehicle which is believed to have mowed down pedestrians in Westminster pic.twitter.com/PJnnLltlWp
— Sky News (@SkyNews) March 22, 2017