LONDON: Five people were killed, including a police officer, in a suspected terrorist attack outside the British parliament, by an attacker who was shot dead by armed police, BritainÂ´s top anti-terror officer said on Wednesday.
A senior police officer, Mark Rowley, said three others were killed on Westminster Bridge after the attacker mowed down pedestrians in a car, leaving at least 40 people injured.
According to eyewitnesses, the attacker rammed into pedestrians on the Westminster Bridge and then crashed his car into railings outside the Houses of Parliament. He then ran out with a knife and stabbed an on-duty police officer.
The assailant is said to be of Asian origin and in his early 40s. However, there is no official word from police on the identity of the attacker yet.
After the incident, a terror alert was issued in the entire country.
Police also reportedly had prior knowledge about a possible terror attack.
The House of Commons, which was in session at the time, was immediately suspended and lawmakers were asked to stay inside, as law enforcers sealed off the area.
British Prime Minister Theresa May was safe after the incident, a spokesperson for her office said. He declined to say where May was when the attack took place.
BritainÂ´s allies reacted with shock and vowed to stand with London in the fight against terror.
US President Donald Trump and French President Francois Hollande both spoke to May and Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel said her country stood with Britons “against all forms of terrorism”.
Lights on the Eiffel Tower in Paris will be switched off at midnight in solidarity with victims of the attack.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan also expressed his condolences, just hours after warning that Europeans risk being unsafe on the worldÂ´s streets as part of a bitter row between Ankara and the European Union.
Social media users shared an altered image of a London Underground sign reading “We Are Not Afraid” and the hashtag #PrayforLondon trended on Twitter.
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,” he said, “we always have, and we always will. Londoners will never be cowed by terrorism,” he said.
UK wonÂ´t change terror threat level after attack: PM Theresa May
May condemned the attack, calling it “sick and depraved”.
“The location of this attack was no accident,” she said in a statement issued after an emergency cabinet meeting
“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.
Britain will not change its terrorism threat level despite an attack in London on Wednesday which left three people and the assailant dead, she said.
“The UK threat level has been set as severe for some time and this will not change,” she said in a televised address outside her Downing Street office.
The attack saw a police officer and two others killed by an assailant who was then shot dead by the police outside the parliament in central London.
Pakistan High Commissioner to the UK condemns attack
Pakistanâ€™s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom Syed Ibne Hasan condemned the attack on the British parliament, calling it a â€œdeplorable and cowardly act of terrorismâ€.
â€œThis dastardly act of terrorism is highly condemnable and our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the victims and all those who suffered injuries,â€ he said.
The ambassador added that Pakistan and its people stand with the British in their fight against the â€œcommon threat to humanityâ€.
“We also appreciate the professionalism and courage of the Metropolitan Police, law enforcement agencies and first responders to the incident,” Hasan added.