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Dublin: 19 °C Thursday 22 August, 2019
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Source: Sky News/YouTube

THE BRITISH HOUSE of Commons has been suspended after an assailant was shot at the British Houses of Parliament.

Eyewitnesses report a loud bang followed by screams at the gates of parliament in central London.

What we know

  • Four people, including a police officer and a man believed to be the attacker, have died
  • The attacker was shot by police within the gates of parliament after stabbing a policeman
  • At least 20 people were injured on Westminster Bridge after a 4x4 drove at pedestrians
  • The incident is being treated as terrorism
  • The House of Commons chamber is locked down
  • Prime Minister Theresa May is safe

Paul Hosford here, reporting on this afternoon’s incidents in London.

Here’s what has happened so far:

Leader of the House of Commons David Lidington MP told The House of Commons that the chamber would remained locked down.

The alleged assailant was shot by armed police. An air ambulance is currently attending the scene to remove the casualties.

“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 would be wrong of me here to go into further details until we have confirmation from the police and from the House security authorities about what is going on.

“I shall endeavour to do the very best I can, both at the dispatch box and by communicating with my opposite numbers in other political parties, to ensure that members are kept aware of what is happening, but at the moment, the very clear advice from the police and the director of security in the House is that we should remain under suspension and that the chamber should remain in lockdown until we receive advice that it is safe to go back to normal procedures”.

It appears that that incident occurred within the gates of parliament and a policeman was injured. An eyewitness has told Sky News that an assailant rushed through gates at parliament with a knife before shots were fired.

A staff member in parliament who did not want to be named told AFP: “I definitely heard shots. I saw someone in dark clothing go down.”

Westminster Bridge

Early reports say that a number of people have been injured, including on Westminster Bridge. It is not yet clear how the two incidents are linked, but Sky News reports that a number of people were struck by a vehicle on the bridge. An air ambulance landed on Parliament Square to tend to the casualties.

Source: TheJournal.ie/YouTube

Eyewitness Richard Tice said there were between eight to ten people lying on the ground on Westminster Bridge. He said the car “drove along pavement knocking people over”.

Can’t view the video? Click here.

The Metropolitan Police says it is treating the incident as a firearms incident.

British Prime Minister Theresa May is safe, Downing Street has confirmed.

Palace of Westminster incident Source: Victoria Jones/AP

Here is the scene from near the Palace of Westminster, one of the busiest tourist spots in the world.

The incident is being treated as a terrorist attack, says the Metropolitan Police. The Press Association reports that police are sweeping the building floor by floor.

Palace of Westminster incident Source: Victoria Jones/AP

Metropolitan Police have released a statement, saying:

Police are asking people to avoid the following areas: Parliament Square; Whitehall; Westminster Bridge; Lambeth Bridge; Victoria Street up to the junction with Broadway and the Victoria Embankment up to Embankment tube.

This is to allow the emergency services to deal with the ongoing incident.

Police were called at approximately 14:40 hours to reports of an incident in Westminster Bridge, SW1. It is being treated as a firearms incident.

Officers – including firearms officers – remain on the scene and we are treating this as a terrorist incident until we know otherwise.

We thank the public for their assistance.

British lawmaker Grant Shapps said on Twitter that he was walking through the cloisters of the House of Commons to vote when he heard four gunshots. Police told lawmakers to get down on the ground and crawl to cover.

The former Polish foreign minister Radoslaw Sikorski posted a video on Twitter that seems to show people lying injured in the road on Westminster Bridge.

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

Source: TheJournal.ie/YouTube

Sikorski told the BBC he “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.

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

Palace of Westminster incident Source: Victoria Jones/AP

London Ambulance Service Deputy Director of Operations Pauline Cranmer said crews were on scene within minutes.

“We were called at 2.40pm to Westminster Bridge to reports of an incident, with the first crew arriving within six minutes.

“We have sent a number of resources to the scene including ambulance crews, London’s Air Ambulance and our Hazardous Area Response Team.

“We are working closely with other members of the emergency services at the scene, with our priority being to ensure patients receive the medical help they need as quickly as possible.

“We have declared a major incident and our priority is to assess patients and ensure that they are treated and taken to hospital as soon as possible.

“As we are very busy dealing with this incident, we would ask the public to only call us in a genuine emergency.”

Transport For London says that Westminster station, which leaves passengers opposite the Palace of Westminster, has been closed.

On the roads, all approaches to Parliament Square are closed.

Reports from eyewitnesses say that the vehicle which ran people over did so deliberately, before crashing into railings at the Houses of Parliament, injuring more people.

The man is believed to have then left the 4x4 and got through gates before stabbing a police officer.

He was then shot by members of the police force’s Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection unit.

Here is the view of the incident in the last half hour:

Palace of Westminster incident Source: Yui Mok/AP

Palace of Westminster incident Source: Victoria Jones/AP

Palace of Westminster incident Source: Yui Mok/AP

Palace of Westminster incident Source: Yui Mok/AP

A number of people are reported to have “catastrophic” injuries.

One eyewitness, Jayne Wilkinson, told Press Association she had seen the drama unfold.

“We were taking photos of Big Ben and we saw all the people running towards us, and then there was an Asian guy in about his 40s carrying a knife about seven or eight inches long.

“And then there were three shots fired, and then we crossed the road and looked over. The man was on the floor with blood.

“He had a lightweight jacket on, dark trousers and a shirt.

“He was running through those gates, towards Parliament, and the police were chasing him.”

PastedImage-1737 Source: Sky News

The London Eye says it is holding all guests “as per tried and tested security procedures”.

“The safety and security of our guests and staff will always be our number one priority,” said the attraction’s Twitter page.

PastedImage-98061 Source: Sky News

Members of the Counter Terrorism Specialist Firearms unit in the Met Police have been brought in. This, a Sky News reporter says “underlines the seriousness” of the incident.

Eyewitness report that one person either jumped or was sent into the River Thames below Westminster Bridge when the 4x4 sped across.

The House of Commons was extremely busy today as Theresa May took Prime Minister’s Questions. Wednesday is typically a busy day in Westminster.

Eyewitnesses say that May was sped from the House of Commons in a silver Jaguar.

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Another person has died, Sky News reports, citing sources. That brings the death toll to two.

Posted by on Thursday, 22 August 2019

Scotland Yard commander BJ Harrington has given a statement to reporters.

He said:

“The senior national coordinator has declared this a terrorist incident.”

He confirmed that a person was in the river and a man was seen with a knife, but said he would not speculate on other specifics and couldn’t say if the incident was over.

“People going home will see additional officers, both armed and unarmed. Our priority is to keep London safe.”

He appealed for the public to stay away from the scene and to send any pictures and video to counter terrorism teams.

He added that he could not speak to the number or nature of the injuries.

Ben Riley-Smith, the assistant political editor of The Telegraph reports that the British Foreign Minister Tobias Ellwood, a former soldier, was involved in the medical response to the stabbing of the police officer.

French media is reporting that three of those injured are French students. The identities of others are not yet known.

The British Prime Minister Theresa May will chair a Cobra meeting tonight. These meetings include members of the British cabinet and high-level security personnel.

Palace of Westminster incident Source: Stefan Rousseau/AP

This was the scene earlier today inside the gates of Westminster Palace.

Palace of Westminster incident Source: Dominic Lipinski/AP

The French diplomatic service has confirmed earlier reports that three French primary school students were among those injured.

Can’t see the video? Click here.

This is the scene after the 4x4 crashed into the railings outside Westminster Palace. The Twitter user who posted the video said that a man was trapped under the car.

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The BBC, citing Tobias Ellwood MP who gave mouth-to-mouth to the police officer stabbed at the scene, reports the officer has died.

No move has been made to upgrade the UK’s terror threat level from severe – meaning an attack is “highly likely” – to critical, meaning an attack is “imminent”.

Palace of Westminster incident Source: Victoria Jones/AP

The Speakers of the Houses of Commons and Lords have issued a joint statement:

An extremely serious incident has occurred in the Westminster area this afternoon. The Metropolitan Police is dealing with this and an investigation is underway. On behalf of Members of both Houses of Parliament, we wish to offer our thoughts to all those affected and their families. We would also like to that express our gratitude to the police and all emergency services.

The French Embassy in the UK has also repeated a statement from French President Francois Hollande, who said:

“Terrorism concerns us all and France know how the British people are suffering today.”

Palace of Westminster incident Source: Stefan Rousseau/AP

This Associated Press photo shows the alleged attacker on a stretcher, with two knives nearby.

The alleged attacker has reportedly been taken to a nearby hospital.

tillerson

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has released a statement condemning the attack:

“Whether they are carried out by troubled individuals or terrorists, the victims know no difference.”

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Four people are now dead after today’s attack in London, Met Police have confirmed. A further 20 are injured.

That death toll includes the attacker, says Met Police Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley.

He says that three police officers were struck on Westminster Bridge.

Assistant Commissioner Rowley added:

A crime scene will remain in place, and a painstaking investigation is taking place to collect all possible evidence.

Our strength as a city depends on our ability to stand together.

We have lost one of our own as he acted to protect the public and his colleagues.

The officer shot was an armed officer tasked with protecting parliament, he said.

He said commuters should remain vigilant on their way home.

Palace of Westminster incident Source: PA Wire/PA Images

Rowley says he “believes” that the two other fatalities occurred on Westminster Bridge.

Palace of Westminster incident Source: Yui Mok

A statement from Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan has condemned the attack:

“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. Anyone concerned about family members in London should contact my Department on 01 408 2527, or the Embassy in London on 0044 207 235 2171.”

At a service this evening, the Dean of St Paul’s Cathedral in London has offered prayers “for those injured in Westminster, for police and all who have to deal with the consequences of violence”.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan has issued the following statement.

His Department has also issued a new out-of-hours number for people with concerns about the attack.

Here is the statement:

“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. Anyone concerned about family members in London should contact my Department on 01 408 2000, or the Embassy in London on 0044 207 235 2171.

The UK Parliament is to open as normal tomorrow, it has been confirmed:

President Donald Trump has spoken to Prime Minister Theresa May, his spokesman Sean Spicer has said.

The White House has condemned the attack. A readout of the phonecall will be made available soon, Spicer said.

spicer

Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs Darragh O’Brien noted that the attack comes exactly a year after the terror attack in Brussels.

“I condemn this appalling attack in the strongest possible terms. These acts of violence are intended as an attack on democratic values and must be resisted and rejected on that basis,” O’Brien said.

“Exactly 12 months to the day since 35 people were killed in the Brussels airport attacks, today’s events are a terrible reminder of how very real the challenge is to protect citizens while respecting human rights and protecting basic freedoms.

“I have passed on the sympathies of my party directly to the British Ambassador to Ireland, Mr Robin Barnett.”

The BBC’s Chris Cook has posted this update on the condition of people being treated at King’s College Hospital.

Leader of the opposition Jeremy Corbyn has posted a message to thank the police and emergency services.

Prime Minister Theresa May is currently chairing a meeting of the COBRA committee, which meets to deal with major crises.

She is expected to give an update later.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan says he has spoken to senior police officers.

Additional officers will be on duty tonight, he said. London remains one of the safest cities in the world, he added.

Source: TheJournal.ie/YouTube

We’re ending our live coverage from this article – but will have updates through the evening here.

These are the contact numbers issued by the Department of Foreign Affairs:

Anyone concerned about family members in London should contact the Department on 01 408 2000, or the Embassy in London on 0044 207 235 2171.

Palace of Westminster incident Source: Yui Mok

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