Jihadists of the Islamic state (EI) claimed on Thursday the attack near the British Parliament which killed three people the day before in London, the first attack on British soil that is attributed to this extremist group.
“The perpetrator of the attack in front of the British Parliament in London is an EI soldier and the operation was conducted in response to the call to hit the countries of the international anti-Jihadist coalition,” said Amaq, The IE propaganda agency, citing “a source of security”.
The British police, which arrested 8 people, had indicated Wednesday privilege the track of “Islamist terrorism”.
According to Prime Minister Theresa May, the assailant, shot dead during the attack, was born in the United Kingdom and was a “known extremist of the intelligence services”.
“A few years ago, he was investigated by the MI5” (Interior Intelligence) in connection with “violent extremism,” said May, adding that he was “a character Peripheral “in this survey.
According to the Guardian, he was not on the MI5 list of the 3,000 most likely to commit a terrorist act.
The police refused to disclose the identity of the attacker so as not to interfere with the investigation.
Wednesday in the early afternoon, this bearded and black-clad man threw his car against the crowd on a sidewalk of the Westminster Bridge, which spans the Thames facing Big Ben, killing two people – a man of fifty Of years and a woman of forty years – and injuring several dozens.
He then stabbed to death a policeman after he managed to enter the courtyard of Parliament, symbol of British democracy, before being shot down by the police.
The scenario in London could have been repeated 24 hours later in Belgium, where a man was arrested Thursday after trying to rush into the crowd on Antwerp’s main shopping street, the police said, without wounding.
“We are not afraid”
Resolved to display its determination in the face of the most deadly attack in the United Kingdom over the last twelve years, the House of Commons, on the whole, observed a minute’s silence before resuming its work on Thursday morning.
“We are not afraid,” said Theresa May, addressing the deputies, adding that democracy was “always to triumph.”
“This act of terrorism has failed because we are here and we are going to resume our work,” said Labor opposition MP Harriet Harman.
The Prime Minister stressed that the attack did not call into question the official launch of the Brexit, scheduled for next Wednesday.
Committed one year to the day after the Brussels bombings, which left 32 dead, the attack is similar to those of Nice (France, 86 dead) and Berlin (12 deaths), both claimed in 2016 by the Islamic State group By throwing a vehicle against the crowd.
The British police said they carried out overnight arrests at six different addresses in Birmingham, London and elsewhere in the country. A major operation took place in particular in Birmingham (center), the second largest city in the country and one of the main haunts of the British Islamists. Mohamed Abrini, “the man in the hat” of the Brussels attacks last year and key suspect of the killings of Paris in November 2015 had stayed there.
“The London man lived here,” said a police raid from a Birmingham apartment at the Press Association.
According to several media reports, the car used by the assailant to mow pedestrians on the Westminster Bridge was leased to Birmingham.
According to a diplomatic source in Spain, the woman who died in the attack is a British mother whose mother is Spanish.
Twenty-nine people, including many tourists, were hospitalized. Seven are still in critical condition, the police said. Among the wounded are three French students from the Saint-Joseph High School in Concarneau (west), on a school trip, two of which are in serious condition.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault met with their families on Thursday morning. He denounced an “attack on the heart of democracy” before going to Parliament.
Four South Korean tourists, two Romanians, two Greeks, one Portuguese, one Italian, one American, one Chinese and one Irish were also injured.
It is the deadliest attack in the United Kingdom since the suicide bombings of July 7, 2005, claimed by al-Qaeda supporters, who had caused 56 deaths on public transport in London.
“London has already been there and knows how to take it,” said Defense Minister Michael Fallon. “Londoners will not be intimidated by terrorism,” said London Mayor Sadiq Khan.
A candlelight vigil was scheduled in the evening on Trafalgar Square in memory of the victims.
The perimeter around the Westminster Palace, the political and tourist heart of the capital, was still closed on Thursday.
“My thoughts and prayers, and my deepest sympathy, go to all those who have been affected by the horrific violence,” said Queen Elizabeth II.
According to Scotland Yard, the British security services have thwarted 13 attempts at attacks since June 2013. “This kind of attack, using objects of everyday life, is incredibly difficult to prevent,” said Emily Winterbotham, specialist From extremism to the specialized RUSI reflection circle.