'Terrorist attack' on UK Parliament, Westminster Bridge leaves at least four dead, 20 injured
By Europe correspondent James Glenday, wires
Updated 28 minutes ago
Video: Police respond to Parliament Square incident (ABC News)
At least four people have been killed and 20 injured in London, after a car ploughed into pedestrians and an attacker stabbed a policeman close to the British Parliament, in what police are calling a terrorist incident.
At about 2:40pm local time (1:40am AEDT) an assailant stabbed an officer at Parliament in Westminster and then was shot by police, officials said.
At about the same time witnesses say a large car hit several people on Westminster Bridge, just near the Houses of Parliament in central London.
The dead includes the assailant and the policeman he stabbed, while the other two victims were among the pedestrians hit by the car as it tore along the bridge.
At least 20 people were injured when the vehicle mounted the pavement.
Warning: This story contains graphic images
Photo: Emergency services respond. (Reuters: Eddie Keogh)
The car then appeared to drive onwards and smashed into the fence outside Parliament.
Dozens of people in the area, which is normally packed with tourists and parliamentary staffers, fled the scene.
About the same time, or shortly afterwards, witnesses say a man entered the grounds of Parliament with a knife.
A police officer confronted the man and was stabbed.
Photo: Witnesses say a large car hit several people on Westminster Bridge. (Reuters: Toby Melville)
"A guy came past my right shoulder with a big knife and just started plunging it into the policeman," witness Rick Longley told the Press Association.
Witnesses said three to four shots were then fired by the officer's colleagues and the attacker was seriously injured.
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."
Photo: Injured people are assisted after an incident on Westminster Bridge in London. (Reuters: Toby Melville)
The Press Association news agency reported that two people were seen lying within the grounds of Parliament.
London's Metropolitan Police said in a statement soon after the incident they were treating the attack "as a terrorist incident until we know otherwise".
"Although we remain open-minded to the motive, a full counter-terrorism investigation is already underway," Commander BJ Harrington told a press conference two hours later.
"We know there are a number of casualties, including police officers, but at this stage we cannot confirm numbers or the nature of these injuries."
Prime Minister Theresa May is being kept updated with developments, her office said in a statement.
"The thoughts of the PM and the Government are with those killed and injured in this appalling incident, and with their families," the statement read.
"The PM is being kept updated and will shortly chair COBR (Cabinet Office Briefing Room)," it added, referring to a meeting of the Government's emergency security committee.
Photo: The emergency services on scene treating the injured. (Reuters: Hannah McKay)
The entire area was cordoned off and a huge number of police and ambulance officers were on the scene.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan released a statement saying his thoughts were with those affected and their families, and thanking the police and emergency services who show "tremendous bravery in exceptionally difficult circumstances".
Offices, underground station in lockdown
The incident took place on the first anniversary of the deadly terrorist attacks in Brussels.
All offices in the area, including the ABC's London studios, were placed in lockdown, and police urged everyone to stay inside.
Armed police conducted a sweep of the parliamentary estate.
Transport for London said the underground station at Westminster has been shut at police request.
Photo: Armed police respond quickly to the incident. (Reuters: Stefan Wermuth)
On Westminster Bridge, witness Steve Voake told the ABC: "Nobody had any idea what was going on so we just started trying to get everybody off the bridge.
"I was walking across the bridge and suddenly a bus stopped and people started screaming.
"There were a couple of bodies on the other side of the bridge and then the side I was on there was a body in the water with blood around it and then quite quickly a police launch came up and then there was a medic motorcycle."
He said he did not hear gunshots, just screams.
"It's very difficult to say but I think I saw three people on the ground being treated and the one in the water and there were bits of clothing," he said.
"I would say they were pretty badly injured. One of them was covered."
Later, the BBC reported that a woman had been pulled alive from the water, and London Ambulance Service say they have treated at least 10 patients on the bridge.
First posted about 4 hours ago
Contact James Glenday
READ MORE: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-03-23/british-parliament-in-lock-down-after-assailant-shot/8378392
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