Five people have been killed and 40 injured after a brazen car and knife attack outside U.K. Parliament

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March 22, 2017 11:26 AM
  • Five people are confirmed dead and 40 injured after attack near Parliament in London, according to police
  • A car hit pedestrians on Westminster Bridge before the attacker exited and stabbed a Parliament officer
  • The attack has been declared a terror incident
  • Authorities believe the assailant — who was shot dead — acted alone

London police said five people were killed and 40 injured after a brazen car and knife attack outside U.K. Parliament on Wednesday afternoon. Scotland Yard is calling the incident terrorism.

An assailant careened a car through one of the busiest and most recognizable parts of Britain’s capital about 2:40 p.m. local time, hitting dozens of pedestrians before crashing into the gate outside the Palace of Westminster during Prime Minister’s Questions time. The attacker then got out and fatally stabbed a police officer before being shot dead by guards, the BBC and other outlets report.

The dead include both the officer and attacker, London’s Metropolitan police said.

Scenes of chaos and heroism unfolded outside the seat of government in Europe’s biggest capital. Conservative MP Tobias Ellwood, an American-born former British Army officer whose brother was killed in 2002 terrorist bombings, was seen giving mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to the wounded police officer.

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British Prime Minister Theresa May, who was on the floor of Parliament at the time, was quickly bundled away by a large detail of armed guards and loaded into a waiting Jaguar. She was taken back to No. 10 Downing Street, where she was set to convene a meeting of COBR, the British government’s crisis response committee.

Shortly after the attack, President Donald Trump was briefed on the incident, according to White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer. The New York police’s counterterrorism unit said police were monitoring the attack and deployed long-gun teams to beef up security outside the British Consulate, City Hall and other major landmarks in N.Y.C.

The attack came one day after the U.S. announced tight new restrictions on carry-on electronics devices on flights originating from several airports in the Middle East and Turkey. It is also one year to the day after twin bomb attacks outside the Brussels airport and a metro station that killed 35 and injured hundreds.

Witnesses told the U.K.’s Telegraph on Wednesday afternoon that a car crashed into a fence on Westminster Bridge, hitting several pedestrians. Photographs show several bloodied people on the ground.

A large knife was pictured on the ground outside the gates of Parliament where the attacker reportedly got out of his car after crashing it.

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U.K. authorities were on the scene in response to what they first called a “firearms incident,” the Metropolitan police said in a statement posted to Twitter. Police added in another statement, “Officers – including firearms officers – are on scene and dealing with the incident in #Westminster.”

“Avoid Parliament Sq, Whitehall, Westminster & Lambeth Bridge, Victoria St up to junction with Broadway & Victoria Embankment/tube #London,” police said.

Harrington added that police “response will be ongoing for some time as it’s important that we gather all evidence.”

London Ambulance Service said in a statement that the first response crew arrived within six minutes of being called and declared the situation a “major incident.”

Eyewitness Kevin Schofield told the BBC that he was first alerted to the incident when he “heard a long bang outside — like a car crash.”

“I looked out of the window and it was pretty chaotic. There were people running around, there was shouting,” said Schofield. “I looked down to my left at Old Palace Yard, which is normally blocked of by armed police, and I saw a man sort of forcing his way through. One police officer went down under his attack and another police officer came to his aid. That’s when the assailant got up with his arm outstretched.”

He continued, “He had something in his hand … He then walked towards the policeman. I couldn’t quite see what happened. The next thing I heard — within 10 seconds — was the sound of gunfire and that was obviously when we realized that something very, very serious had happened.”

Parliament was on lockdown, and the Westminster underground station had been temporarily shut down, according to transit authorities.

Prime Minister May was ushered into a silver Jaguar car amid the commotion, reported ITV. A spokesperson for May told the Telegraph in a statement, “The Prime Minister was brought back to Number 10 from Parliament. She is currently monitoring the situation.”

A spokesperson told PEOPLE, “The thoughts of the PM and the Government are with those killed and injured in this appalling incident, and with their families.”

May spoke to President Trump, Spicer confirmed during a White House press conference on Wednesday. “We condemn today’s attack in Westminster, which the United Kingdom is treating as an act of terrorism,” he said.

In a statement, London’s Mayor Sadiq Khan said on Twitter, “I have spoken to the Acting Commissioner. The Metropolitan Police Service is dealing with the incident and an urgent investigation is underway. My thoughts are with those affected and their families.”

The Westminster area is a popular tourist attraction as the home of Big Ben, Westminster Abbey and the London Eye Ferris wheel.

Passengers on the Eye told CNN that the ride was stopped during the incident, leaving them stranded for over an hour. The Eye confirmed that all guests had disembarked over two hours, after tweeting that the ride had been suspended.

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