London Driver Charged with Terrorism After Crashing Into Barrier Outside Parliament

LONDON — A automotive struck and injured a number of pedestrians and cyclists, then crashed right into a safety barrier simply outdoors the Houses of Parliament in London early Tuesday, in what the police stated they have been treating as a terrorist assault.

About a dozen armed cops swarmed a silver Ford and pointed their weapons at it, earlier than handcuffing the motive force.

“He was arrested on suspicion of terrorist offenses,” and the Counter-Terrorism Command was main the investigation, the Metropolitan Police said in a statement. “At this stage, we are treating this as a terrorist incident.”

The police stated the motive force, in his late 20s, was the one particular person within the automotive, and that no weapons had been discovered within the automobile.

Officers arrange a safety cordon round Parliament Square, with round a dozen police vehicles and ambulances parked on the web site, whereas helicopters circled above. Armed officers stood guard, and video footage on Twitter confirmed them urging folks to depart the realm.

Westminster Bridge was closed to automobiles, pedestrians have been directed to different routes, and the close by, closely used Westminster subway station was closed. None of these injured have been believed to be in life-threatening situation, the police stated.

Westminster, the locus of British politics, has been beneath tight safety since March 2017, when an assailant driving a sport utility automobile mowed down pedestrians on Westminster Bridge and stabbed a police officer, prompting the evacuation of the prime minister. At least 4 folks, together with the assailant, have been killed, and not less than 40 others wounded.

The Parliament constructing, additionally referred to as the Palace of Westminster, is bounded by among the metropolis’s busiest streets, with site visitors passing a lot nearer than it does to the White House or the United States Capitol, for instance, making safety a problem.

Witnesses instructed tv stations that the episode appeared deliberate; the automotive was touring too quick, they stated, and didn’t attempt to keep away from putting folks or the safety barrier.

One witness, Jason Williams, instructed ITV’s “Good Morning Britain”: “Basically, I’ve seen a man driving a vehicle, and he’s gone into one of the bollards. There was a loud bang. Straight away I thought, ‘Oh no, this is another terrorist attack.’ So I just started to run, and the police were saying, ‘Get out, get out of the area.’ ”

Another witness, Barry Williams, instructed the BBC that the automotive had accelerated after hitting a gaggle of cyclists, relatively than making an attempt to decelerate.

A safety digicam recording broadcast by the BBC confirmed the automotive making a pointy flip to go the unsuitable approach onto a one-way set of site visitors lanes, then driving over an island in the midst of the road, earlier than getting into a facet lane the place it hit the barrier.

George Pascal, 31, a upkeep employee on the Parliament constructing, stated that “there was big smoke and everyone was sent to safe places,” and that the constructing, had been locked down. “It felt quite claustrophobic because you couldn’t move anywhere.”

“Everything happened so quickly,” he stated. “Police were running around with guns and everyone was mobilizing.”

Declaring the episode a “terrorist incident” permits the police to detain the motive force for as much as 28 days with out charging him, relatively than the same old restrict of three days. Under some circumstances, the designation can even enable the police to limit the person’s entry to authorized recommendation.

According to a police assertion, “At 7.37 a.m. today, a car was in collision with barriers outside the Houses of Parliament.” The assertion stated that the male driver of the automotive had been detained by officers on the scene. “A number of pedestrians have been injured,” it continued.

Prime Minister Theresa May said on Twitter, “My thoughts are with those injured,” and he or she thanked “the emergency services for their immediate and courageous response.”

A month after the Westminster assault final yr, a 27-year-old man carrying knives was arrested near Parliament by the police, who charged him with planning a terrorist assault. No one was harm.

And in June that yr, three men killed six civilians near London Bridge and the nearby Borough Market, and wounded dozens extra.

Parliament was already surrounded by traces of crash bollards, balustrades and metal barricades, put in place after the Sept. 11, 2001, assaults within the United States and the bombings on July 7, 2005, in London. Terrorist assaults in Paris and Brussels in 2016 led to even tighter safety.

Richard Martyn-Hemphill and Prashant S. Rao contributed reporting.

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