A police officer was stabbed and an alleged assailant shot in the early afternoon in front of the Westminster parliament in London, an incident the police described as a “terrorist”.
“A policeman was stabbed and an alleged assailant hit by a bullet,” House of Commons official David Lidington told MPs, confined within parliament “until further notice.”
Scotland Yard said he was called at about 14:40 local time (and GMT) for an “incident at the Westminster Bridge related to firearms”. The police confirmed a little later that it considered that “until proven otherwise”, it was a “terrorist” incident
A spokeswoman for Downing Street said Premier Theresa May was “fine.”
Ms. May spoke to the British MPs in the early afternoon, but the spokesman refused to confirm whether she was still in or near Westminster Palace when the attack occurred.
Several witnesses interviewed by the British media saw a man crossing the entrance gates of the parliament running and brandishing a knife.
Other witnesses saw two people lying in front of Parliament in the heart of London.
“We were taking pictures of Big Ben when everyone started running and we saw a man in his 40s wearing a knife about twenty centimeters. Then we heard three shots. We crossed the street and saw the man in blood on the floor, “said Jayne Wilkinson at the British Press Association.
“I clearly heard shots. I saw someone dressed in black fall. I think he was a policeman, “an employee of Parliament told AFP.
The person, who did not want to give his identity, said he saw the scene from his office.
Westminster Bridge “not safe”
A rescue helicopter landed shortly after the incident.
At least two ambulances were stationed near the Westminster bridge near the parliament, an AFP journalist said.
The police cleared the crowd on the bridge, saying the place was “not safe”.
British television stations also broadcast images of a car stamped on the side security gates of the Westminster Bridge just in front of Parliament and Big Ben.
The images showed at least two people lying on the ground and cared for on the bridge, closed to traffic.
The Westminster metro station was closed, a spokesman for the Transport for London board said.
At the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh, debates on a referendum of independence were briefly interrupted to inform the deputies of the incident in London.
A security official said the Scottish police were reviewing security in Holyrood, the Edinburgh neighborhood where the Scottish Parliament is located.
Scotland Yard announced in early March that the British security services had “thwarted thirteen attempted terrorist attacks since June 2013” in the United Kingdom.
The terrorist alert level in the United Kingdom has been set to “serious” since August 2014, the fourth on a scale of 5. Following the November 2001 attacks in France, the police announced the deployment of 600 additional armed police In London, bringing their number to 2,800.