Houses of Parliament attack: four dead including police officer



How the Westminster terror attack unfolded

Four people have died, including a police officer, and at least 20 people have been injured in a major terror attack outside the Houses of Parliament, the Metropolitan police have confirmed.

Mark Rowley, the head of counter-terrorism at the Met, said a police officer had died after being stabbed by a lone attacker attempting to enter the House of Commons. The suspect was shot and killed.

Moments earlier, at about 2.40pm, the attacker drove a vehicle at speed into pedestrians on Westminster Bridge, near parliament, killing two people.

Rowley said at least 20 people, including three officers, were hurt in the attack on the bridge. A diplomatic source told Reuters three French students were among the injured.

“This is a day we’ve planned for but hoped would never happen. Sadly it’s now a reality,” Rowley said. “The attack started when a car was driven over Westminster Bridge hitting and injuring a number of members of the public, also including three police officers on their way back from a commendation ceremony.

“The car then crashed near to parliament and at least one man armed with a knife continued the attack and tried to enter parliament.

“Sadly, I can confirm that four people have died. That includes the police officer protecting parliament and one man we believe to be the attacker, who was shot by a police firearms officer. The officer’s family have been made aware. At least 20 people have been injured.”

One woman is believed to have been thrown over the bridge into the river Thames – and later pulled alive from the water – while another fell on to a hard surface below the bridge.

Emergency services at the scene outside the Palace of Westminster


The suspected attacker attended by emergency services at the scene outside the Palace of Westminster. Photograph: Stefan Rousseau/PA

The vehicle came to a halt on the pavement, up against railings to the north of New Palace Yard, the green space adjacent to Big Ben, opposite an entrance to Westminster tube station.

A man with a knife was then seen running through the gates of the Palace of Westminster, across New Palace Yard and stabbing a police officer. The attacker continued his rampage, targeting a second officer, according to witnesses, but was shot by police as he approached the second officer clutching his knife.

In the aftermath of the attack, the Foreign Officer minister Tobias Ellwood reportedly helped treat the injured officer. The Bournemouth MP, a former soldier, was pictured helping the police officer in Parliament Square. His brother Jonathan was killed in the 2002 Bali terror attack.

Colleen Anderson, a junior doctor, said a female pedestrian had died. She also said she treated a police officer in his 30s with a head injury who had been taken to King’s College hospital. “I confirmed one fatality. A woman. She was under the wheel of a bus. She died, confirmed her death at the scene,” she said.

Attack on parliament map

The prime minister was expected to chair a meeting of the government’s emergency Cobra committee on Wednesday evening. A Downing Street spokesman said: “The thoughts of the PM and the government are with those killed and injured in this appalling incident, and with their families. The PM is being kept updated and will shortly chair COBR.”

Theresa May was in the Commons lobby when the incident occurred, according to the health secretary, Jeremy Hunt. He was with other ministers in a cabinet sub-committee when they were told of the incident.

Commander BJ Harrington, head of the Met’s public order command, said a full counter-terrorism investigation was under way. Harrington said the Met received a number of different reports, which included a report of a person in the river, a car in collision with pedestrians and a man armed with a knife.

The acting Met commissioner, Craig Mackey, was driving by parliament on his way to a meeting when the attack took place, Harrington said. He left his vehicle to help officers deal with the incident and was being treated as a witness.

Police asked 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.

The Commons leader, David Lidington, told MPs in the moments after the attack that a police officer had been stabbed” and the “alleged assailant was shot by armed police” following a serious incident within the parliamentary estate.

Play Video

People flee parliament as gunshots ring out – video

Pictures emerged after the incident showing people lying injured on Westminster Bridge, some of them bleeding.

Two people could be seen lying within New Palace Yard, immediately outside Westminster Hall. The sitting in the House of Commons was suspended while police officers sealed off the area. Staff inside parliament were told to stay inside their offices.

Minutes after the incident, an emergency services helicopter landed in Parliament Square, as sirens were heard outside. Air ambulance medics came from the helicopter to assist the casualties.

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Footage of car after crash into railings outside Parliament – video

Immediately before the incident, at about 2.45pm, people were seen running from the direction of Westminster Bridge and around the corner into Parliament Square.

Rob Lyon, 34, from Rugby, was walking along Westminster Bridge with a colleague when he saw a 4×4 vehicle travelling at high-speed, hitting pedestrians. He said: “I heard a wheel definitely hit a kerb, quite a loud crunch noise. I looked up and saw a car clearly hitting people as it came towards me.

“A colleague I was with, James, I heard him sort of shout. I instinctively jumped off the pavement. I could see people being hit. And then the car just carried on up the bridge and I just looked around and was really in shock.”

Radoslaw Sikorski captured the aftermath of the attack on Westminster Bridge on video. Sikorski, a senior fellow at the Harvard Centre for European Studies, said: “I heard what I thought was just a collision and then I looked through the window of the taxi and [saw] someone down, obviously in great distress.”

Rick Longley said he saw the car crash into the railings and a man leap out. “We were just walking up to the station and there was a loud bang and a guy, someone, crashed a car and took some pedestrians out,” he said. “They were just laying there and then the whole crowd just surged around the corner by the gates just opposite Big Ben.

“A guy came past my right shoulder with a big knife and just started plunging it into the policeman.”

Pat McCormack, 21, from Washington in Tyne and Wear saw an attacker stabbing the police officer. “I saw him stabbing the officer in the back of the head and the back of the neck. He was running away but then he collapsed.”

A member of the public is treated by emergency services.


A member of the public is treated by emergency services. Photograph: Carl Court/Getty Images

The Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, said: “There’s been an extremely serious incident in parliament today. Lives have been lost and people have been seriously injured. I want to thank the police and all the security services who did so much to keep the public, those who work in parliament and MPs safe. Our thoughts are with those who have suffered loss and those who have seen terrible injuries this afternoon.”

Steve White, the chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales, which represents tens of thousands of rank-and-file officers, said: “No words can capture how members of the policing family will feel after today’s horrific events. We have lived in the knowledge that an attack on UK soil has been highly likely for nearly three years. Everyone is firmly aware of this fact, but it makes it no less shocking when it becomes a reality.

“This incident highlights the very real risks that police face each and every day. Officers will tonight take the opportunity to hug loved ones and seek comfort in the company of friends and family. But one will not. The pain of that officer’s family, friends and colleagues will be shared by us all.

“Our hearts go out to their family and our thoughts are with them and their colleagues at this terrible time along with others who have been injured today.”

The incident took place a year to the day after the terror attack on Brussels, which killed 32 people and left 320 injured.