At least four people have died and 20 have been injured in an attack in Westminster in central London. The attacker drove a car into people on Westminster Bridge before entering the grounds of the Houses of Parliament. The man, armed with knives, then stabbed and killed a police officer before being shot dead.
- Attacker drove a car across Westminster Bridge running down numerous people
- The man then entered grounds of parliament and stabbed and killed a police officer
- Attacker was shot dead by police
- Two other people on the bridge also confirmed dead, at least 20 injured
- Security lockdown as police cordon off area around parliament
Welcome to our coverage of what looks like some kind of double attack at and near the Houses of Parliament in London.
An air ambulance has arrived on the scene at parliament.
There are reports that an intruder got through the main gates of the Palace of Westminster, home to the UK houses of parliament, into what is known as Auld Palace Yard, where he was shot by police. Quentin Letts, a journalist who was in his office in the parliament buildings at the time, had this to say to the BBC:
We saw a thick set man in black clothes come through the gates into new palace yard and he was carrying what looked like a stick. He was challenged by one of the policemen in yellow and then one of them fell down and we could see the man moving his arm in such a way that he appeared to be stabbing the policeman. The police called for help, which came very quickly and the man had moved perhaps 15 yards when two plain clothes guys with guns shouted at him – what seemed like it was a warning and he ignored it and they shot him two to three times and he fell.
Police have closed the area around parliament to traffic.
Armed police are guarding the cordon.
The Metropolitan Police issued the following statement, describing a “firearms incident”.
The FT’s Caroline Binham says an eyewitness described what appears to be the attack on Westminster Bridge. A man drove a car into people on the bridge, injuring at least four people. The driver then continued on towards Parliament, shots were fired and the driver was hit. What is not clear is whether the driver was the same man who got into the grounds of the Parliament. The car that the assailant was in can be seen up on the pavement against the railings of the Palace of Westminster on St George’s Street, which is the road that runs off Westminster Bridge
Commons Leader David Lidington has told MPs a “police officer has been stabbed” and the “alleged assailant was shot by armed police” following a “serious” incident within the parliamentary estate.
He added: “At the moment, the very clear advice from the police and the security of the house is that we should remain under suspension and the Commons should remain in lock down until it is safe to return to normal procedures.”
Here is a picture via Twitter showing the car that appears to have been involved on the attack on Westminster Bridge
President Donald Trump has been briefed on events in London.
Here’s the first take from our chief political correspondent, who is in the FT’s offices inside the Palace of Wesminster:
The House of Commons was suspended on Wednesday afternoon after a knife attack at the entrance to Parliament soon after a car mowed down a number of pedestrians on Westminster Bridge.
Two people were receiving emergency treatment on the ground in New Palace Yard and an air ambulance landed on the premises after the incident at about 2.35pm.
One of those is understood to be a policeman who was attacked by an individual described by witnesses as a middle-aged man of Asian appearance carrying a seven-inch knife. That person was subsequently shot by another member of the police, according to eye witness accounts.
Other people were seen lying in the road on Westminster Bridge after a car ploughed into at least half a dozen people. One witness, Richard Tice, said he saw “eight or ten prostrate people on the ground….from north to south of the bridge, clearly injured.”
An explosion was heard, followed by at least three shots as police officers flooded the area. David Lidington, leader of the House of Commons, confirmed there had been a stabbing and said there had been further incidents “in the vicinity of the Palace of Westminster”.
MPs who had already been in the Commons chamber were told to remain where they were. Other MPs and staff were initially told to get down – and away from windows – before being asked to return to Portcullis House where they remained in “lockdown”.
Theresa May, the prime minister, was voting in the division lobby of the Commons when a plain-clothed officer appeared and asked her to leave. She was swept away in a car.
Transport for London has closed down Westminster Underground station and Parliament Square was closed to traffic.
The Metropolitan Police released a statement saying that they were called at 14.40 to reports of an incident on Westminster Bridge and were treating it as a firearms incident.
Don Brind, a witness, told the Press Association: “I heard some shouting and saw some running out of the corner of my eye and then a short time after that there was a shot. I looked and I saw a civilian on the ground, with somebody standing over him with what I assumed to be a gun.
“Then I looked and about 10 yards away, there was a yellow jacketed person on the ground, who appeared to be alive and talking.” He said he assumed the person in the high-visibility jacket was a police officer.
There are reports coming in that the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh at Holyrood is in lockdown and all business has been suspended.
Police are treating events at Westminster as a terrorist incident.
Here’s a locator map of the area around the Palace of Westminster, which is home to the Houses of Parliament:
Here’s a fuller statement from the Metropolitan Police:
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.
Former Polish foreign minister Radoslaw Sikorski appears to have been in the area during the time of the attack and tweeted phone video of the aftermath of the attack on Westminster bridge, including injured people on the ground:
It appears the reports of Holyrood under lockdown were wrong, the Scottish Parliament is continuing to debate the motion of a second independence referendum.
Members of the public are being treated on the scene at Westminster Bridge for injuries, some thought to be serious.
Many MPs were in the Houses of Parliament at the time of the incident, some of them have been describing what happened on Twitter.
Other government buildings in Whitehall are also on lockdown it would seem. One employee at the Treasury, diagonally opposite Parliament, at 100 Parliament Street, says they are locked in the building.
Another MP has tweeted this picture of armed police on site inside the Houses of Parliament.
News from Scotland: the debate on the independence referendum has now been suspended.
David Lidington, leader of the House of Commons, has confirmed that the attacker who made it into the grounds of Westminster Palace was shot by police. It remains unclear whether he was acting alone.
Here’s another eyewitness accounts via PA:
Jayne Wilkinson said: “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.”
Her partner David Turner added: “There was a stampede of people running out.
“You saw the people and you thought ‘what the hell is going on’.”
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has issued a statement, saying his “thoughts are with the victims, their friends and families”.
“The police and security staff have taken swift action to ensure the safety of the public, MPs and staff, and we are grateful to them,” he said.
Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon has also made a statement on Twitter, saying her thoughts are “with everyone in and around Westminster caught up in this dreadful incident”.
Another image from inside parliament from one of the MPs locked inside.
The Press Association reports that one woman has died, quoting a doctor at St Thomas’ hospital, while a number of others have been hurt – including some with “catastrophic” injuries.
Eyewitness says he saw one attacker involved in both incidents
Mike Pullen, a lawyer at Carter Ruck, was in a taxi at the junction where Parliament Square meets Westminster Bridge at the time of the attack.
He told the FT’s Caroline Binham that there was a loud bang behind the car, and he saw two bodies lying on the ground.
He assumed it was a traffic accident and saw a grey, smaller 4X4 vehicle ramped onto the pavement. A body of a man with a red backpack was on the ground approximately four feet from the vehicle, he said.
He said he saw a bald, Asian man with a heavy beard by the driver door of the car. This man then proceeded to the main gates of parliament, brandishing two identical double-bladed knives with blades around eight inches long. The man was carrying the knives in each hand using a so-called “hammer grip”, with his thumbs on top and the blades down by his little fingers.
Mr Pullen said there were three uniformed police were at the gate, and when they saw he had weapons they ran for help. Two officers went in the direction of parliament, and the third went in the other direction. This was the one the attacker went for, Mr Pullen said, adding the attacker had the officer bent over and stabbed him multiple times in the back.
The attacker then moved on and at that point three shots were fired and the assailant fell.
The incident at Westminster has cause various safety measures to kick in across the capital. The London Eye, for example, has been halted.
The FT’s Joshua Chaffin is in Westminster. He sent this report from an eyewitness:
Tawhid Tanim, a sales consultant in the area, was standing just outside Westminster Station, waiting to meet a friend for tea when the incident unfolded.
“All of a sudden I just hear three shots: bang, bang, bang! It was, I
don’t know, five, ten feet away. And then people started running.”
Startled, Mr Tanim looked over and said he saw a grey car “smashed into
parliament” and what looked like a person trapped underneath.
“I could see something under the car, I’m not sure if it’s a man or a
woman or something,” he said.
Then police began ordering people to flee the scene.
“People started running like they lost their nuts. They were running like mad,” he said.
The Met have confirmed that armed police are still on the scene at Westminster.
We have seen some dramatic images of those officers on site.
Police are also appealing to members of the public to provide any images or footage they may have of this afternoon’s incident.
Another picture from inside the chamber. Journalists, it’s worth noting, are not allowed to take photos there.
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has also commented on today’s events, saying the “serious incident” is “being treated as a terrorist attack until the police know otherwise”.
Mr Khan said the Metropolitan Police are “dealing with the incident and an urgent investigation is underway”.
“I would like to express my thanks to the police and emergency services who work so hard to keep us safe and show tremendous bravery in exceptionally difficult services”.
Parliament remains on lockdown, as per this image from another MP inside.
Here’s an annotated map of the area around Westminster:
Metropolitan Police Commander BJ Harrington has just made a statement, saying the police are treating the attack as a “terrorist incident” and that a counter-terrorism operation is underway and would be ongoing.
“We know that there are a number of casualties, including police officers, but at this time we cannot confirm the nature or the number of these injuries,” he said.
Commander Harrington said that the Met’s acting police commissioner Craig Mackey is being treated as a “significant witness” as he was at the scene at the time of the attack.
Here’s a more detailed locator map of the attack:
The London Ambulance Service has treated at least 10 people on the scene.
The BBC is reporting that Conservative MP Tobias Ellwood helped an injured policeman and administered CPR in an effort to revive them.
The Press Association’s chief political photographer Stefan Rousseau took this picture of the Foreign Office minister with emergency services within the gates of the Palace of Westminster.
Ellwood’s brother, Jon, died in the 2002 Bali bombings.
Downing Street has said that Prime Minister Theresa May will chair a meeting of the government’s emergency Cobra committee later today.
Specialist protection officers took Mrs May back to Downing Street by car after the incident.
A number of news organisations, citing the Port Authority, report that a woman has been pulled alive from the River Thames near Westminster Bridge with serious injuries.
This is the full statement made by Metropolitan Police Commander BJ Harrington just before 5pm GMT.
A summary of what we know so far:
At about 2:40pm reports started emerging of an attack on Westminster Palace, which is home to the Houses of Parliament. So far from what little the police have said and from eyewitness statements, it appears that at least one attacker drove a car across Westminster Bridge from the south bank of the river Thames towards the Houses of Parliament. The car deliberately ran down pedestrians on the bridge (pictured below) before crashing into railings around the grounds of Westminster Palace just around the corner from the main gate.
Then one man, armed with at least one knife, forced his way through the main gate (pictured below) where he stabbed a police officer on duty. The man was then shot by police, it is not clear whether he survived.
The police have said they are treating the attack as a terrorist incident.
Sky News reporter Tom Cheshire is at Downing Street, where security is understandably tight.
French prime minister Bernard Cazeneuve has expressed “solidarity” with the UK and confirmed that French students were wounded in the attack.
The French foreign ministry also said in a statement that “France assures the British people of its solidarity”, adding: “Among those injured are three pupils from the Lycée Saint Joseph in Concarneau who were on a school trip.”
Some people are now being evacuated from the Houses of Parliament into Westminster Abbey opposite where they will be held for some time. Liberal peer, Mike German, has tweeted a few photos from inside the abbey:
Another eyewitness report. This time Radoslaw Sikorski, the former Polish foreign minister, was in a taxi heading south across Westminster bridge when the attack happened and told the Financial Times he saw injured people on the road. He also took a video of the scene just after the attack.
He told the FT’s Neil Buckley:
“I didn’t see the car passing by us, but I heard an impact which sounded like a minor car collision and lifted my gaze from my smartphone, and I saw people injured, down, on the tarmac and on the pavement.
“I saw five people including one who seemed unconscious and one bleeding heavily from the head. Some were moving, and they were already getting help.
“At first, I thought it was a collision, but when I saw five people stretched out over about a hundred yards, then I understood it must have been deliberate.”
Mr Sikorski said the collisions took place on the south part of the bridge, closer to St Thomas’ Hospital. His first thought was that the incident was a “repeat of Nice,” he added.
US secretary of state Rex Tillerson has issued a statement, expressing condolences “to the victims and their families”.
Via the FT’s defence and security editor Sam Jones, Mr Tillerson said:
On behalf of the United States, I express my condolences to the victims and their families. The American people send their thoughts and prayers to the people of the United Kingdom. We condemn these horrific acts of violence, and whether they were carried out by troubled individuals or by terrorists, the victims know no difference.
Pictures continue to flood in from Westminster, where an investigation is already in full swing.
J Peter Donald, assistant commissioner for communication and public information for the New York Police Department, has said that while there is no information linking the London attack to New York, the NYPD has “re-deployed long gun teams” to the British Consulate in New York, as well as City Hall and Grand Central Station in the city.
Some UK media are reporting that the police officer attacked in the grounds of Westminster Palace has died. There are also unconfirmed reports at least one woman on Westminster Bridge has died.
White House press secretary Sean Spicer has said that US president Donald Trump has spoken with UK prime minister Theresa May.
NBC News posted a video of Spicer’s full comments during his daily press briefing.
TfL has tweeted that Canning Town station in east London, which serves both the Jubilee line and the Dockland Light Railway, and is not far from London City Airport has been closed “while we respond to a security alert outside the station.”
Metropolitan Police confirm four people, including the attacker, have died, and at least another 20 people injured. Police add: “We are satisfied at this stage that it looks like there was only one attacker.”
The Metropolitan Police have just posted a full video of the latest comments from deputy commissioner Mark Rowley.
We have decided to close this blog to comments
Despite today’s evacuation, the House of Lords and the House of Commons will sit tomorrow at their normal times, according to the official UK parliament Twitter account.
Reaction continues to pour in from world leaders.
Donald Tusk, president of the European council, said Europe “stands firm with the UK against terror and ready to help”.
German chancellor Angela Merkel has said she was “deeply shocked” by the attacks.
There is a name for the possible suspect doing the rounds, which we can’t confirm so we will not be naming him. However, it is safe to say that if it is confirmed it is someone who would have been very well known to the British security services.
UK home secretary Amber Rudd has made a statement during a trip to Pakistan, saying in a tweet that the “whole country will be thinking of” and “praying for those affected”.
“Our top priority is people’s security,” she said, adding: “We have the best police and security services in the world and we will let them get on with their job.”
Her full statement:
We do not yet know the full impact of this terrible incident. But I know that the whole country will be thinking and praying for those who are affected, as I am.
I want to thank the emergency services for the quick response and pay tribute to their bravery, their courage and their professionalism.
I have been briefed by the Met Police and by the security services and the Security Minister has also been updated. This is an ongoing incident and the Government will continue to be updated. The Prime Minister will chair COBR today.
The Government’s top priority is the security of its people and I urge everyone to remain calm but to be vigilant and if they see anything they are concerned about they should report it to the police.
We have the best police, the best security services in the world and we must make sure that we let them get on with doing their job.
The British people will be united in working together to defeat those who would harm our shared values.
Values of democracy, tolerance and the rule of law. Values symbolised by the Houses of Parliament. Values that will never be destroyed.
The Police Federation of England and Wales, which represents more than 120,000 police officers, has issued a statement, saying today’s incident “has left both colleagues and the public numb”.
“No words can capture how members of the policing family will feel after today’s horrific events,” said Steve White, chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales.
He added: “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.”
An update on public transport: Westminster underground station has re-opened for interchange passengers but still no-one is being allowed to enter the station. Meanwhile, the security alert that closed Canning Town earlier is over. Anyone planning to use bus services that run through the Westminster area should be prepared for delays and diversions. Police had earlier asked people to avoid the following areas:
Parliament Square, Whitehall, Westminster Bridge, Lambeth Bridge, Victoria Street up to the junction with Broadway and Victoria Embankment up to Embankment Tube station.
Downing Street has issued a brief statement.
“The thoughts of the PM and the Government are with those killed and injured in this appalling incident, and with their families,” a Number 10 spokesperson said.
“The PM is being kept updated and will shortly chair COBR.”
COBR, also known as Cobra, is the UK government’s high-level emergency committee.
We’ve got a brief readout of Donald Trump’s call with Theresa May.
The sun has set over London.
King’s College Hospital in London’s Denmark Hill is treating eight victims of today’s attacks.
The hospital just confirmed that its emergency department treated eight patients, six men and two women, after the incident.
Two of the patients are described as in “critical condition”, with another six in “stable condition”.
The Metropolitan Police is flying its flag at half-mast over Scotland Yard tonight.
Stephen McPartland, a Tory MP, has summed up the mood of many who were in Parliament during the attacks as police are letting people go home. In a Tweet he says: “We have just been released from Parliament and starting journey home. Terrible day for so many families”
Night has now fallen on London, where the central Westminster area around the Houses of Parliament, is still cordoned off by police following the attack earlier.
There have been no further updates since the statement from Metropolitan Police Commander B J Harrington in which he revealed the lone attacker was dead along with a police officer and two other people who were on Westminster Bridge at the time the attack started.
The attacker first deliberately drove at pedestrians on the bridge before crashing into railings around the grounds of Westminster Palace just around the corner from the main gate. At least two people are reported killed in that attack and at least 20 are injured, some critically.
Then man, armed with two knives, then appears to have got out of the vehicle and forced his way through the main gate where he stabbed and killed a police officer on duty. The man was then shot by armed police and subsequently died after an ambulance crew tried to save him.
Here’s a close-up map showing how the attack unfolded:
We are going to wrap up our live coverage of the attack on central London this evening. The police have said they are treating it as an act of terrorism and an investigation is under way. Please go to FT.com for continued coverage.