Car smashing into barrier outside Westminister terrorist incident, says London police – Washington Post

by William Booth August 14 at 6:50 AM Email the author

LONDON — A man crashed his car into security barriers outside Britain’s Houses of Parliament during Tuesday morning’s rush hour, injuring “a number of pedestrians” in what police are calling a terrorist incident.

The driver was arrested at the scene on “suspicion of terrorist offenses,” said police.

 The suspect, a man in his late 20s, was taken to a south London police station where he remains in police custody. His name has not been released.

“At this stage, we are treating this as a terrorist incident and the Met’s Counter Terrorism Command is now leading the investigation,” the Metropolitan Police spokesman said.

London Ambulance Service said its staff treated three people at the scene, two of whom ended up at a local hospital. A third suffered just minor injuries. Scotland Yard said none of the injuries were life-threatening.

Several witnesses told British news media that the crash appeared to be intentional. His silver Ford Fiesta sideswiped cyclists and pedestrians, striking several.

The Palace of Westminster, where Parliament convenes, bolstered security around the buildings in March 2017, after Khalid Masood drove his car into crowds along Westminster Bridge, killing four people. In that attack, Masood leaped from his smashed car with a knife and began slashing at police and passersby. He killed one policeman before he was shot and killed by armed officers.

“I saw a car going at high speed toward Parliament. It hit a bollard,” Jason Williams, 45, told ITV news, referring to a traffic barrier on the sidewalk. “It looked deliberate. It didn’t look like an accident. How do you do that by accident? It was a loud bang.”

He estimated the car was traveling at 40 to 50 mph.

Footage from a rooftop video camera showed the suspect’s car clipping cyclists and narrowly missing pedestrians, jumping a curb, weaving toward the barriers, before crashing outside the Parliament building, across the street from Westminster Abbey. Parliament is currently on summer recess.

Police immediately surrounded the car, which was traveling fast enough to deploy its air bags upon collision. Photographs taken at the scene show armed police surrounding a silver sedan, with automatic weapons pointed inside the car.

Witness Ewalina Ochab told Britain’s Press Association, “I heard some noise and someone screamed. I turned around and I saw a silver car driving very fast close to the railings, maybe even on the pavement.”

Prime Minister Theresa May thanked the emergency services for their “immediate and courageous” response to the attack. London Mayor Sadiq Khan said he was in contact with the Metropolitan Police commissioner and applauded “first responders who were on the scene so quickly.” 

The cabinet scheduled a meeting of its emergency COBRA committee for the afternoon.

This story is developing.