Sat | Aug 19, 2017

British Parliament on lockdown, officer stabbed; report of car rampage

Published:Wednesday | March 22, 2017 | 3:53 AM
Emergency personnel tend to an injured person close to the Palace of Westminster, London, on Wednesday.

LONDON (AP):
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 UK 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.