Yesterday afternoon an attack took place outside the Palace of Westminster, which is the meeting place for both the House of Commons and the House of Lords. The attack left approximately five people dead and injured at least 40 people. Following the attack, United Kingdom Prime Minister Theresa May was escorted out of the Palace to her office.
The investigation regarding incident, which is still being handled as a terror attack, is ongoing, as Commander BJ Harrington stated outside Scotland Yard. As a response, the security forces of the British Transport Police, the City of London Police and the Metropolitan Police have been mobilized in the London area, according to the Evening Standard.
In a press conference Wednesday, Assistant Commissioner for Specialist Operations Mark Rowley announced the attack had taken place around 2:40 p.m.
The New York Times reported that the attack began with a “large vehicle” running down pedestrians along the Westminster Bridge, which crosses the Thames River and heads towards the Palace of Westminster. According to the London Ambulance Service, there were 10 individuals treated on the bridge.
Among those injured on the bridge were three teenage students from Brittany according to Reuters. NPR also reported that “a woman was found in the Thames after the attack, alive but injured; how she fell in the river is not clear.”
As reported by NPR, Assistant Commissioner for Specialist Operations Mark Rowley announced the bridge attack had injured three police officers who were coming back from a commendation ceremony.
Subsequent to driving through pedestrians on the bridge, the driver then crashed into the fencing surrounding the Palace. Following the crash, a man had emerged from the vehicle wielding at least one knife, according to NPR. After stabbing an armed police officer, Keith Palmer, to death, nearby police officers shot the assailant dead.
Soon after the attack transpired, the Metropolitan Police’s SAS-style counterterrorism unit arrived with automatic weapons, according to the Evening Standard.
According to NPR, law enforcers in Britain are not typically armed. However, the Metropolitan Police announced through twitter that the officers that encountered the suspect were armed.
In the moments following the attack, Conservative Member of Parliament Tobias Ellwood attempted to resuscitate the stabbed police officer by performing mouth-to-mouth, according to the New York Times.
Following the attack, which Harrington said was initially received separately as three individual reports, the House of Commons operations were suspended and Members of Parliament had been instructed to remain in their quarters, according to the Evening Standard.
The driver of the vehicle remains to be identified by authorities but some British news sources have begun to publish photographs of a man that is believed to be the assailant.
Olivia Mukendi, a 19-year-old Rutgers University student currently studying in London said, “word of the attack spread around pretty fast. Everyone knew something happened but no one really knew the full extent of the incident, or what would possibly happen next.
For Mukendi, the momentary lack of information was frightening. As a result of Wednesday’s attack, Mukendi noticed that London had “felt on edge.” Though not present during the attack, Mukendi remained emotionally affected, stating, “I would jump at the slamming of a car door or hearing helicopters fly overhead just because there wasn’t a lot of answers.”
According to the New York Times, Britain has gone a decade without suffering a terrorist attack. The last recorded attack was in July 2005, when multiple bombs had killed people on the subway and on buses.
Authorities have yet to ascertain the identification of the attacker as well as the motive. Furthermore, the condition of those injured remains unknown.