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UPDATE: Five Dead, About 40 Injured in UK Parliament ‘Terrorist’ Attack (Video)

By Toby Melville and William James

LONDON, March 22 (Reuters) – Five people were killed and about 40 injured in London on Wednesday after a car plowed into pedestrians and a suspected Islamist-inspired attacker stabbed a policeman close to Britain’s parliament.

The dead, in what police called a “marauding terrorist attack,” included the assailant and the policeman he stabbed. The other three victims were among those hit by the car as it sped across Westminster Bridge before crashing into railings just outside parliament.

Prime Minister Theresa May condemned the attack as “sick and depraved.”

“The location of this attack was no accident,” she said in a statement outside her 10 Downing Street office late in the evening.

“The terrorist chose to strike at the heart of our capital city, where people of all nationalities, religions and cultures come together to celebrate the values of liberty, democracy and freedom of speech.”

Any attempt to defeat those values through violence was “doomed to failure,” May said.

Mark Rowley, Britain’s most senior counter-terrorism officer, told reporters the attack started when a car was driven over Westminster Bridge, hitting and injuring members of the public and three police officers.

“A car then crashed near to parliament and at least one man, armed with a knife, continued the attack and tried to enter parliament,” Rowley said.

He said the police’s “fast-paced investigation” was working on the assumption that the attack was “Islamist-related terrorism.” Police believed they knew the identity of the attacker but would not provide details at this stage, he said.

It was the deadliest attack in London since four British Islamists killed 52 commuters and themselves in suicide bombings on the city’s transport system in July 2005, in London’s worst peacetime attack.

It took place on the first anniversary of attacks by Islamist militants that killed 32 people in Brussels.

Reuters reporters inside parliament during Wednesday’s attack heard loud bangs and shortly afterwards saw the knifeman and the stabbed policeman lying on the ground in a courtyard within the gates of parliament.

The dead police officer was identified as Keith Palmer, 48, with 15 years of service.

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LAWMAKERS CAUGHT UP IN CHAOS

A Reuters photographer saw at least a dozen people injured on the bridge. His photographs showed people lying on the ground, some of them bleeding heavily and one under a bus.

A woman was pulled alive, but with serious injuries, from the Thames, the Port of London Authority said. The circumstances of her fall into the river were unknown.

Three French schoolchildren aged 15 or 16 were among those injured in the attack, French officials said.

Several members of parliament (MPs) and senior officials were caught up in the chaos. Tobias Ellwood, a junior Foreign Office minister, was pictured attempting to resuscitate a man lying unconscious, reported to be the stabbed policeman.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan said there would be additional police officers on the city streets to keep Londoners and visitors safe.

“We stand together in the face of those who seek to harm us and destroy our way of life. We always have, and we always will. Londoners will never be cowed by terrorism,” he said.

Parliament’s lower House of Commons, which was in session at the time, was suspended and lawmakers were asked to stay inside the building for several hours.

May said parliament would convene as normal on Thursday in a sign that the attack would not disrupt life in the capital.

However, a visit by Queen Elizabeth to officially open the new headquarters of London’s police force, which had been planned for Thursday, was postponed “in light of today’s events,” Buckingham Palace said.

In a telephone call with May, President Donald Trump offered Britain the full cooperation and support of the United States, the White House said. U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson condemned the attack as “horrific acts of violence.”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg were among foreign leaders who expressed shock and solidarity.

“NO SIGNS OF LIFE”

Eyewitnesses described scenes of panic during the attack.

“I just saw a car go out of control and just go into pedestrians on the bridge,” said Bernadette Kerrigan, who had been on a tour bus on the bridge, in an interview with Sky News.

“As we were going across the bridge, we saw people lying on the floor, they were obviously injured. I saw about 10 people maybe. And then the emergency services started to arrive. Everyone was just running everywhere.”

Former Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski, who witnessed the attack from a taxi as he crossed the bridge, said he saw five victims and made a video of the scene.

“I heard something that sounded like a small car crash. Then I looked out of the window and saw that there was one person lying on the asphalt,” he told Reuters.

“I did not see the face of the person lying on the asphalt, but the person was not moving, it was not showing any signs of life. One of the men I saw, his head was bleeding very badly. But the person I filmed — no, that person was not showing any signs of life.”

Journalist Quentin Letts of the Daily Mail newspaper told LBC radio that he had witnessed the stabbing of the policeman and the shooting of the assailant from his office in the parliament building.

“He (the assailant) ran in through the open gates … He set about one of the policemen with what looked like a stick,” Letts said.

“The policeman fell over on the ground and it was quite horrible to watch and then having done that, he disengaged and ran towards the House of Commons entrance used by MPs and got about 20 yards or so when two plain-clothed guys with guns shot him.”

In Edinburgh, the Scottish parliament suspended a planned debate and vote on independence as the news from London came in.

Britain is on its second-highest alert level of “severe” meaning an attack by militants is considered highly likely.

The most recent deadly attack in London to be treated as a terrorist incident was in May 2013, when two British Islamists stabbed to death soldier Lee Rigby on a street.

REUTERS

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BREAKING: Four Dead, Others Injured In UK Parliament ‘Terrorist Attack’ (Updated)

By Toby Melville and William James

LONDON, March 22 (Reuters) – An assailant stabbed a policeman and was shot by police just outside Britain’s parliament building in London on Wednesday in what police described as a “terrorist incident.”Amid confusing scenes, it appeared the incident may have unfolded in several locations, including on the nearby Westminster bridge where eyewitnesses said a car had crashed into pedestrians.

Two people died in the incident, according to Sky News, but the total number of casualties was unclear.

BBC News (UK) later gave a stern description of the incident and added two extra number of casualties to the number, making it four dead.

“Officers – including firearms officers – remain on the scene and we are treating this as a terrorist incident until we know otherwise,” London’s Metropolitan Police said in a statement.

The incident took place on the first anniversary of attacks by Islamist militants that killed 32 people in Brussels.

Reuters reporters inside the parliament building heard loud bangs and shortly afterwards saw two people lying on the ground in a courtyard just outside, within the perimeter of the parliamentary estate.

A Reuters photographer said he saw at least a dozen people injured on Westminster Bridge, next to parliament.Slide 1 of 17: Armed police respond outside Parliament during an incident on Westminster Bridge in London, Britain March 22, 2017.

His photographs showed people lying on the ground, some of them bleeding heavily and one apparently under a bus.

“I just saw a car go out of control, and just go into pedestrians on the bridge,” a woman who gave her name as Bernadette told Sky News. She was on a tour bus on the bridge at the time.

“As we were going across the bridge, we saw people lying on the floor, they were obviously injured. I saw about 10 people maybe. And then the emergency services started to arrive. Everyone was just running everywhere.”

“HORRIBLE TO WATCH”

Some people suffered catastrophic injuries in the incident, British news agency the Press Association reported, citing a doctor at St Thomas’s Hospital which is located directly across the River Thames from parliament.

Officials said an assailant had stabbed a policeman and then been shot.

Witness reports suggested the assailant and the stabbed policeman were the people seen lying on the ground just outside the parliamentary building by Reuters reporters.

The House of Commons, which was in session at the time, was immediately suspended and lawmakers were asked to stay inside.

Prime Minister Theresa May was safe after the incident, a spokesman for her office said. He declined to say where May was when the attack took place.

Journalist Quentin Letts of the Daily Mail newspaper told LBC radio that he had witnessed the stabbing of the policeman and the shooting of the assailant from his office in the parliament building.

“He (the assailant) ran in through the open gates … He set about one of the policemen with what looked like a stick,” Letts said.

“The policeman fell over on the ground and it was quite horrible to watch and then having done that, he disengaged and ran towards the House of Commons entrance used by MPs (members of parliament) and got about 20 yards or so when two plain-clothed guys with guns shot him.”

Reuters reporters inside parliament saw a large number of armed police, some carrying shields, pouring into the building.

U.S. President Donald Trump told reporters at the White House he had been briefed on events in London but gave no details.

In Edinburgh, the Scottish parliament suspended a planned debate and vote on independence as news of events in London came in.

Britain is on its second-highest alert level of “severe” meaning an attack by militants is considered highly likely.

In May 2013, two British Islamists stabbed to death soldier Lee Rigby on a street in southeast London.

In July 2005, four British Islamists killed 52 commuters and themselves in suicide bombings on the British capital’s transport system in what was London’s worst peacetime attack.

REUTERS

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President Trump Unlikely To Address Britain’s Parliament

Corky Siemaszko

Scratch addressing the Houses of Parliament from President Trump’s itinerary if and when he makes a state visit to Britain later this year.

The speaker of the 650-member House of Commons, which is the lower house, said Trump is not welcome there.

“Our opposition to racism and to sexism, and our support for equality before the law and an independent judiciary, are hugely important considerations,” John Bercow told cheering lawmakers Monday while announcing his opposition to Trump addressing the body.

Bercow said he made up his mind about Trump before he ignited a fresh round of outrage by signing an executive order that banned citizens from seven mostly-Muslim from entering the U.S.

“Before the imposition of the migrant ban, I would myself have been strongly opposed to an address by President Trump in Westminster Hall,” he said. “After the imposition of the migrant ban I am even more strongly opposed to an address by President Trump in Westminster Hall.”

Image: Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow responds to a point of order from Labour politician Stephen Doughty on the state visit of US President Donald Trump to the UK during a session of the House of Commons in London on Feb. 6, 2017.© In a still image taken from footage broadcast by the UK Parliamentary Recording Unit (PRU) on Feb. 6… Image: Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow responds to a point of order from Labour politician Stephen Doughty on the state visit…  

There was no immediate response from the White House to Bercow’s snub or from British Prime Minister Theresa May, who had been taking flak from lawmakers from extending Trump an invitation to visit Britain. So far no date for a state visit has been set.

But Bercow is one of three lawmakers who would have to sign off on any Trump address should an invitation be extended, the other two being the Speaker of the House of Lords (the upper house of Parliament) and Lord Great Chamberlain (who runs the parts of the Westminster Palace not controlled by the two houses of parliament).

Bercow stressed that Britain values its “relationship with the United States,” but addressing the Lords and Commons are an “earned honor” not an “automatic right.”

Three U.S. Presidents have addressed Parliament — Barack Obama in 2011, Bill Clinton in 1995, and Ronald Reagan in 1982. So have leaders of countries that Trump has targeted like Mexico and China as well as religious leaders like Pope Benedict and the Dalai Lama.

Bercow’s pronouncement came after lawmakers debated barring Trump altogether from the United Kingdom over his anti-Muslim rhetoric.

“His words are not comical, his words are not funny,” the Labour Party’s Tulip Siddiq said of Trump. “His words are poisonous.”

Meanwhile more than 500,000 people have signed an online petition calling for blocking Trump from Britain for “hate speech.”

Under British law, parliament has to debate any petition that gathers 100,000 signatures or more.

Prime Minister David Cameron has condemned Trump’s remarks as “divisive, stupid and wrong.” But he and other senior officials have said they do not think Trump should be banned from Britain.

Labour’s Paul Flynn agreed.

“The great danger by attacking this one man is that we can fix on him a halo of victimhood,” Flynn said. “We give him the role of martyrdom, which can be seen to be an advantage among those that support him.”

“We oppose Mr. Trump for demonizing his opponents,” added Conservative Edward Leigh. “If we ban him from the country are we not in danger of doing the same?”                       (NBC News)

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