U.K. Parliament suspended, witnesses report gunfire

UK Parliament Gunfire

LONDON — Britain’s Parliament was locked down Wednesday after an attacker stabbed an officer and was then shot by police, and witnesses said a vehicle struck several people on the nearby Westminster Bridge. London police said they were treating the attack as a “terrorist incident until we know otherwise.”

The threat level for international terrorism in the U.K. was listed at severe. The city was also on alert for the Thursday funeral of Martin McGuinness, former IRA commander.

Dennis Burns, who was just entering Parliament for a meeting, told the Press Association he heard a radio message saying an officer had been stabbed. Police and security rushed outside as he was going in.

“When I got inside I was wondering what the hell was going on and I saw dozens of panicked people running down the street,” he said. “The first stream was around 30 people and the second stream was 70 people.
“It looked like they were running for their lives,” he said.
On the bridge, witnesses said a vehicle struck several people, and photos showed a car plowed into railings.
The former Polish foreign minister Radoslaw Sikorski posted a video on Twitter that showed people lying injured on the bridge.
Sikorski, a senior fellow at Harvard Centre for European Studies, says he saw at least five people lying on the ground after being “mown down” by a car.
In Parliament, witnesses reported hearing sounds like gunfire.
Leader of the House of Commons David Lidington said an assailant at Parliament was shot and that there were reports of other violence nearby.
Journalists there said they were told to stay in their offices. Press Association news agency reported that two people were seen lying within the grounds of Parliament.
George Eaton, a journalist with the New Statesman, said that from the window of Parliament’s Press Gallery, he saw police shoot a man who charged at officers.
“A large crowd was seen fleeing the man before he entered the parliamentary estate,” he wrote on the publication’s website. “After several officers evaded him he was swiftly shot by armed police.”
Prime Minister Theresa May was at Parliament when the incident began, but her office says she is safe.
The scene unfolded within clear sight of the London Eye, a large ferris wheel with viewing pods with views of the capital. Footage showed the pods full as viewers watched police and medical crews on the bridge.

Here is the latest on reports of the incidents outside Britain’s parliamen

The U.S. State Department says it is closely monitoring the incident outside London’s Parliament and urged Americans in London to avoid the area.
Spokesman Mark Toner said Wednesday: “We stand ready to assist in any way the U.K. authorities would find helpful.”
He added that the U.S. Embassy in London is closely following the news and stands ready to help any affected Americans.
He said: “Our hearts go out to those affected.”

3:50 p.m.
Witness Rick Longley told the Press Association that he saw a man stab a policeman outside Britain’s Parliament.
“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.
“I have never seen anything like that. I just can’t believe what I just saw.”
Lawmaker Adam Holloway told the AP he saw people running and immediately ran into his offices in Parliament to be with his staff. “A lot of us are locked in with our staff at the moment,” he said.

3:50 p.m.
The White House says U.S. President Donald Trump has been briefed on a gun and knife incident at Britain’s Parliament in London.
Trump himself said during a brief appearance Wednesday before reporters at the White House that he was just getting the news. He called it “big news.”
Trump’s spokesman, Sean Spicer, says the U.S. will continue to monitor the situation and update the president.
Britain’s Parliament was on lockdown after – according to officials – an assailant stabbed an officer then was shot by police.
London Police also said officers were called to an incident on nearby Westminster Bridge.

3:40 p.m.
British lawmaker Grant Shapps said on Twitter that he was walking through the cloisters of the House of Commons to vote when he heard four gunshots. Police told lawmakers to get down on the ground and crawl to cover.
“Police response instant. Heard commotion, looked round. Police weapons drawn, 4 shots, police ordered us to hit ground & get back, get back,” he said.

3:40 p.m.
The former Polish foreign minister Radoslaw Sikorski posted a video on Twitter that seems to show people lying injured in the road on Westminster Bridge.
Sikorski, a senior fellow at the Harvard Centre for European Studies, says he saw at least five people lying on the ground after being “mown down” by a car.
Sikorski told the BBC he “heard what I thought what I thought was just a collision and then I looked through the window of the taxi and someone down, obviously in great distress.
“Then I saw a second person down, and I started filming, then I saw three more people down, one of them bleeding profusely.”

3:35 p.m.
London police say they are treating a gun and knife incident at Britain’s Parliament “as a terrorist incident until we know otherwise.”
The Metropolitan Police says in a statement that the incident is ongoing. It is urging people to stay away from the area.
Officials say a man with a knife attacked a police officer at Parliament and was shot by officers.
There are also reports of a vehicle hitting pedestrians on nearby Westminster Bridge.
——
3:25 p.m.
A European security official says there was increased chatter on jihadi networks Tuesday following the U.K.’s adoption of an electronics ban aboard flights from certain mostly Muslim countries.
He said, however, there was no information that the incident was terror-related.
The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak about ongoing security operations.
By Paisley Dodds.

3:15 p.m.
The leader of Britain’s House of Commons says a man attacked a police officer at Parliament and has been shot by police.
David Lidington says the Parliament complex is in lockdown.
He says there are reports of further violent incidents neaby, and police say they have been called to a firearms incident on nearby Westminster Bridge.
Witnesses said a vehicle struck several people on the bridge, and photos showed a car plowed into railings.

3:05 p.m.
The leader of Britain’s House of Commons says a man has been shot by police at Parliament. David Liddington also said there were “reports of further violent incidents in the vicinity.”
London’s police said officers had been called to a firearms incident on Westminster Bridge, near the parliament.
A session of Parliament was suspended after the incident.
Britain’s MI5 says it is too early to say if the incident is terror-related.
——
2:55 p.m.
A session of Britain’s House of Commons has been suspended as witnesses reported hearing sounds like gunfire nearby.
The Commons’ speaker suspended the session as police responded to an incident.
Journalists at the Parliament building said they were told to stay in their offices.
The Press Association news agency reported that two people were seen lying within the grounds of Parliament.
Police had no immediate confirmation.

Metropolitan Police shared updates on Twitter:

The Press Association news agency reported that two people were seen lying within the grounds of Parliament.
Police had no immediate confirmation.

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