A police officer has been stabbed and a suspected assailant shot outside the Houses of Parliament, shortly after a car rammed into members of the public on Westminster Bridge, in what police have described as a “terrorist incident”.
One woman has died and a number of others, including the police officer, have been hurt, according to a junior doctor at St Thomas’ Hospital. Some were described as having “catastrophic” injuries.
At least three gun shots were heard by those inside Westminster, and proceedings in the House of Commons have been suspended.
The deputy speaker of the Commons, David Lidington, announced the suspension in the House, saying a police officer had been stabbed and the “alleged assailant shot by armed police”.
Early reports indicate the car, which mounted the pavement on Westminster Bridge and mowed into around a dozen people, was the same vehicle which then rammed into the railings of the Palace of Westminster, just around the corner.
Security sources described the suspected assailant as a middle-aged Asian man, who is understood to have left the car before attacking a police officer with a seven-to-eight inch knife.
Paramedics treat an injured person on the pavement outside the Houses of Parliament
The police officer was seen wounded but moving, after falling to the ground clutching his arm or shoulder. At least one man was seen running towards the exit of New Palace Yard, underneath Big Ben.
Police were seen shouting at him, presumably to stop. Shots were then heard. It is unclear at this stage whether one or more assailants were involved.
Dozens of police, many armed, ran around the gate of parliament in the moments after the shots were fired.
The car is understood to have mounted the pavement on Westminster Bridge before ramming the railings outside Parliament
Witness Rick Longley said he saw a man stab a male police officer outside 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.”
Nearby the main gate, just outside the entrance to Westminster Hall, a crowd of police and paramedics crouched over one of the victims and just metres away police pointed their weapons to an individual who was lying motionless on the floor. Paramedics worked furiously pulling medical supplies from their bags and dressing wounds.
The traffic all around Parliament was stopped and the road immediately outside the gate was cleared. Inside Parliament, workers were told to stay away from the windows as the building went into lockdown.
Police carried out CPR on one of the individuals who had been shot, in an attempt to keep them alive.
At 2.50pm an air ambulance arrived and landed in Parliament Square to take the injured to hospital. Police continued to do CPR to one of the injured.
A spokesperson for Metropolitan Police said: “We are treating this as a terrorist incident until we know otherwise.”
Earlier, the force tweeted: “We are aware of reports of an incident at Westminster. We will put more information out as soon as we can.
“We were called at approx 2.40pm to reports of an incident at Westminster Bridge. Being treated as a firearms incident – police on scene.”
An air ambulance arrived and landed in Parliament Square within 10 minutes of the start of the incident
Theresa May was still on the parliamentary estate following Prime Minister’s Questions when the attacker struck.
Witnesses saw the Prime Minister being led to her car, a silver jaguar, with the vehicle about to leave when officers then prevented it from driving into New Palace Yard where the incident occurred.
A Downing Street source confirmed Ms May was “OK”.
Van driver Mitchell Spree, 27, told The Independent he was driving along Embankment when he saw people being evacuated from nearby buildings.
He said: “Then we pulled on to the bridge. A lady was laying at the entrance to the bridge. There was about five more people.
“She was crying. She was speaking to the paramedic. I don’t know what the others were like. The police asked us to leave our van. It’s still on the bridge.
A second witness, Tawhid Tanim, told The Independent he heard three shots – “bang, bang, bang” – some 10 or 15 metres from the Cafe Nero coffee bar where he was waiting for friends.
He said: “It was so loud. People were running like crazy.”
He saw the aftermath of the car striking railings outside Parliament, he said. Whether someone, or something, was underneath, he could not be sure.
“I couldn’t see it properly. I started running.”
Police officers told the crowds to “just keep running,” he said.
MPs wait in the House of Commons as information drifts through via their phones and the Deputy Speaker, David Lidington (BBC News)
Within half an hour of the incident, Parliament was in lockdown. The chamber cleared of MPs, the restaurants of diners. Parliamentary passes no longer opened any door, any gate.
Westminster’s press offices occupy the top floor of the palace along from Big Ben and round to Westminster Hall, right over the courtyard where a car smashed into a gate, tourists and pedestrians screamed and, seconds later gunshots were heard.
Chefs, maintenance men, reporters massed at the windows. One had a video of the Prime Minister’s car, understood to be Theresa May hurriedly driven away.
Ambulance staff treated a man by the entrance to Westminster Palace, at least thirty metres inside the perimeter.
Half an hour after the incident, along the Committee Corridor, where MPs meet for meetings all week, another wave of shouting could be heard. Through the windows, anti-terror police could be seen, in their air force blue uniforms, barking instructions to one another, apparently securing the building.
Labour MP Mary Creagh told reporters: “They are clearing it floor by floor.
“It was very frightening, to see people running towards you, to hear that shots had been heard.”
“My thoughts are really with those people” who were victims of the attack, she said.
Credit Independent uk