Parliament in lockdown: Police open fire outside Westminster and shoot knife-wielding man amid reports of explosion and ‘at least 12 pedestrians mowed down on bridge’

  • Four-wheel drive car said to have driven over Westminster Bridge knocking down pedestrians this afternoon
  • ‘Asian’ knifeman then got into the grounds of Parliament where he reportedly stabbed a police officer
  • The ‘middle-aged’ attacker was then shot by armed officers as the area was cleared by emergency services
  • Parliament was suspended and the Prime Minister was rushed from the scene in an unmarked police car

A knifeman was shot by armed police in the grounds of Parliament today after pedestrians were mowed down in a terror attack on Westminster Bridge.

The area was closed off and an air ambulance was seen landing as police sealed the area

More than 12 people are said to have been hit by a car on the central London bridge after a vehicle described as a ‘4×4’ drove into pedestrians and cyclists.

An intruder, described by a witness as ‘middle-aged and Asian’, then managed to break into the grounds of the Houses of Parliament and stabbed a police officer before he was shot.

Prime Minister Theresa May is said to have been bundled into a car by a plain-clothes police officer and driven quickly from the scene.

Scotland Yard said the attack, which comes a year to the day after the terrorist atrocities in Brussels, are being treated ‘as a terrorist incident until we know otherwise’.

Emergency teams were seen carrying out CPR inside the palace grounds in New Palace Yard, the main thoroughfare in and out of Parliament 

Emergency teams were seen carrying out CPR inside the palace grounds in New Palace Yard, the main thoroughfare in and out of Parliament

A police officer was stabbed by the knifeman before he was shot by other officers. Paramedics are now treating the injured

A police officer was stabbed by the knifeman before he was shot by other officers. Paramedics are now treating the injured

There were disturbing scenes on Westminster Bridge where around a dozen pedestrians were said to have been knocked down

There were disturbing scenes on Westminster Bridge where around a dozen pedestrians were said to have been knocked down

Members of the public rushed to help a man run down after the vehicle mounted the pavement on Westminster Bridge

Members of the public rushed to help a man run down after the vehicle mounted the pavement on Westminster Bridge

An injured victim walks from the scene on Westminster Bridge where more than 10 people were reported knocked down

An injured victim walks from the scene on Westminster Bridge where more than 10 people were reported knocked down

Commons Leader David Lidington 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.

Witness 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’.’

Mail journalist Quentin Letts saw the incident out of the window of a Commons office. He told the BBC: ‘We heard this sound that sounded like a car crash…

‘Then we saw a thick set man in black clothes come through the gates where people would normally drive cars

‘This man had something in his hand. It looked like a stick. He was challenged by two policemen. The policeman fell down.

‘We could see the man in black movinghis arm in a way that suggested he was either striking or stabbing.’

It is  believed this was the series of events this afternoon where a knife attacker drove into pedestrians before he was shot

Armed Police have opened fire and shot a person outside the Houses of Parliament. A vehicle was seen on social media to have crashed into the fence of the palace 

Armed Police have opened fire and shot a person outside the Houses of Parliament. A vehicle was seen on social media to have crashed into the fence of the palace

A pedestrian lies stricken on Westminster Bridge after reports a car knocked down people near the Houses Parliament

Police closed off the bridge today while members of the public and paramedics helped those injured on the bridge

Police closed off the bridge today while members of the public and paramedics helped those injured on the bridge

The area was closed off and an air ambulance was seen landing as police sealed the area

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Kevin Schofield, the editor of PoliticsHome.com heard ‘a very loud bang’ from the press gallery inside the Houses of Parliament followed by lots of shouting and men running around.

He initially thought it was a car crash but then he looked outside the window to a heavily-guarded area outside which is out of bounds to the public.

He told Sky News: ‘Someone rushed through, attacked a policeman, a policeman went down, another policeman came and he was rescued.

‘The man who had assaulted him got up and he appeared to be carrying either a knife or a gun. Then we heard gunfire, lots of gunfire, maybe five or six rounds.

‘All I remember seeing is the man approaching the police officer probably with a knife and then there was gunfire.’

After the incident, Radoslaw Sikorski posted a video to Twitter purporting to show people lying injured in the road on Westminster Bridge.

Mr Sikorski, a senior fellow at Harvard’s Centre for European Studies, wrote: ‘A car on Westminster Bridge has just mowed down at least 5 people.’

People outside the palace could be seen running from the scene when the shots were heard.

An eye witness said that a car was seen to mow down five people on Westminster Bridge.

Police are then believed to have shot a man who tried to enter the Parliamentary Estate.

The dramatic incident comes weeks after it was revealed that UK security services have foiled 13 potential attacks in less than four years, while counter-terrorism units are running more than 500 investigations at any time.

The official threat level for international terrorism has stood at severe, meaning an attack is ‘highly likely’, for more than two years.

Liberal Democrat transport spokeswoman Baroness Randerson said countries seem to have been ‘singled out based on religious beliefs’.

‘Of course safety is paramount at all times and we all need to remain vigilant but this ban needs to be explained in detail,’ she said.

HOW PARLIAMENT HAS BEEFED UP SECURITY TO PROTECT AGAINST A TERROR ATTACK

Extra Metropolitan Police firearms officers are regularly put on detail around the grounds of the Houses of Parliament in the aftermath of terror attacks.Following the Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris two years ago, armed officers were positioned at the front vehicle gates to the Palace of Westminster, in a change from normal practice.Concrete blocks have also been installed around the premises of the Houses in a bid to protect the building from a possible attack.In recent years, MPs have been told to consider fitting their constituency offices with panic buttons and designating a ‘safe room’ in their homes.

They are also being briefed on the security plans in case of an attack on the Commons.Following the stabbing to death of Jo Cox, MPs spent almost £640,000 on boosting security.During the four months after her murder, politicians spent four times on security measures what they had done in the whole previous year.Spending on MP’s office and home security also rocketed after Mrs Cox was shot three times and stabbed outside a constituency surgery meeting.Last year it was revealed that 130 MPs had requested additional security measures, including bomb-proof letter boxes and reinforced windows.Members have also been offered classes in self-defence techniques in a bid to ward off would-be attackers.

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