Five people have died and dozens were injured in a terrorist attack outside the Houses of Parliament in London including a police officer and the attacker.  The attacker is believed to have acted alone but police are investigating possible associates and do not further attacks on the public are planned.  ISIS has reportedly claimed responsibility for the attack, calling the attacker “a soldier of Islamic State”.

The attack began when 52 year old Khalid Masood drove a car into pedestrians on Westminster Bridge.  He struck and killed three people – two of whom died at the scene and one who later died of his injuries in the hospital.  Masood crashed the vehicle into a wall outside the parliament, where he ran into New Palace Yard.  Armed with two knives, he attacked two police man at the security gates as he tried to enter the building.  There, he stabbed an unarmed police officer multiple times and was subsequently shot by police.

At least 50 people were injured, with 31 requiring hospital treatment. Two victims remain in a critical condition, one with life-threatening injuries. Two police officers are among those still in hospital.  Victims killed in the attack have been identified as 43 year old mother of two Aysha Frade who was hit by a bus while fleeing the attack and 75 year old Leslie Rhode who succumbed to his injuries in the hospital.  Also killed was 54 year old Utah resident Kurt Cochran.  He and his wife, Melissa, were on the last day of a trip to Europe to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary. Melissa remains in hospital with serious injuries.  Forty-eight year old Police Officer Keith Palmer who was a husband and father, had 15 years of service with the parliamentary and diplomatic protection service.

British-born attacker Khalid Masood was known to police and had been investigated a few years ago by MI5 in relation to concerns about violent extremism but police have said he was not part of any current investigation at the time of the attack. Masood, who was born in Kent, a county east of London, had several aliases including his birth name “Adrian Russell Ajao”.  He  had a range of previous convictions for assaults- including grievous bodily harm, possession of offensive weapons and public order offences. His most recent arrest was in December 2003 for possession of a knife.

London mayor Sadiq Khan, led a vigil attended by thousands in Trafalgar Square where he vowed “Londoners will never be cowed by terrorism”. World leaders condemned the attack and offered condolences. The US president, Donald Trump promised full support by the US government to the UK in responding to the attack.  Leaders of Canada, France, Germany and Spain were among others who sent messages of solidarity.

In the aftermath of the attack, London has been doubled the number of armed police and increased the number of unarmed officers.  Police raided properties in Birmingham — where the culprit’s vehicle was rented from Enterprise — and London.  Defense Minister Michael Fallon described the attack as a “lone-wolf attack” but said investigators were still checking whether others were involved.

Advertisements