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London Parliament car crash: UK police treat incident as terrorism; all you need to know

Given that this appears to be a deliberate act, the method, and this being an iconic site, we are treating it as a terrorist incident: London Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu

The British police on Tuesday arrested a man, who is said to be in his 20s, for driving a vehicle into pedestrians and cyclists, before crashing into barricades placed outside London’s parliament. Three people were injured in the incident, which occurred during the early morning rush hour. As the incident happened, heavily-armed police personnel rushed to the spot and cordoned off the area outside the parliament building in central London.

Commenting on the incident, London Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu was quoted as saying by Reuters, “Given that this appears to be a deliberate act, the method, and this being an iconic site, we are treating it as a terrorist incident.” The official added that the suspect involved in the incident has been placed in custody, however, he is yet to co-operate with the detectives.

This was the second time the Parliament building has been attacked in just under 18 months.

What actually happened?

The British police said that a silver colour Ford Fiesta on Tuesday morning barged into pedestrians and a number of cyclists before colliding in the barriers placed outside the Houses of Parliament. The CCTV footage recovered from the site showed the vehicle taking a wrong turn and then heading towards a group of cyclists waiting at traffic lights. After hitting the people present at the traffic light, the vehicle then took a turn and proceeded into a lane leading to parliament before crashing into the barricades placed.

Armed police flooded the area after the incident was reported at 7:37 am, hauling the driver from the vehicle, arresting him and cordoning off streets surrounding the heart of Britain’s government. The nearby Westminster subway station was closed, and police asked people to stay away from the area.

Eyewitnesses said the silver Ford Fiesta car was traveling at high speed when it hit pedestrians and cyclists, then crashed into a barrier designed to protect Parliament from vehicle attack. Two people were taken to local hospitals and another was treated at the scene. One woman remained hospitalised Tuesday afternoon, but her injuries aren’t believed to be life-threatening, authorities said.

When and where did the attack happen?

The incident occurred at 7:37 am today on the House of Lords end of Parliament in London.

How many people are injured?

As per media reports, three people were injured. Two among the three were taken to the hospital and one woman was still receiving treatment for serious but not life-threatening injuries.

How did passersby react?

An eyewitness, Ewelina Ochab, told the Associated Press: “The car drove at speed into the barriers outside the House of Lords. There was a loud bang from the collision and a bit of smoke. The driver did not get out. The guards started screaming to people to move away.”

Another eyewitness Jason Williams also saw a car moving at high speed. “It didn’t look like an accident,” he said. “How do you do that by accident?”

Donovan Parsons, a cameraman for ITV’s “Good Morning Britain,” was filming outside Parliament when he heard a loud crash. “I saw the car crash into the barrier outside Westminster Palace, with smoke coming out of the vehicle. Police were around it, telling people to get back. … They dragged someone out of the car,” he told the Associated Press.

How world leaders reacted to the incident?

British Prime Minister Theresa May: Condemning the attack, the PM expressed her views on Twitter, saying: “My thoughts are with those injured in the incident in Westminster and my thanks to the emergency services for their immediate and courageous response.”

London’s Mayor Sadiq Khan: “All Londoners, like me, utterly condemn all acts of terrorism on our city.”

US President Donald Trump: “Another terrorist attack in London…These animals are crazy and must be dealt with through toughness and strength!”

When was the last time the Parliament attacked?

The Parliament was earlier attacked in a similar way in March 2017. Khalid Masood, the man identified behind the attack then, had killed four people on Westminster Bridge and stabbed to death an unarmed police officer in the grounds of parliament before being shot dead.

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