Was The UK Parliament Attack Terrorism? Shots Were Reportedly Fired
A "firearms incident" was reported by the Metropolitan Police's Twitter account on Wednesday, with London citizens worrying amidst all of the mayhem: Was the U.K. Parliament attack terrorism? Police are still investigating outside of the British Parliament building and, according to Reuters, "at least a dozen" were injured. The building has been placed on lockdown while local law enforcement works to uncover the causes of the event. Though Theresa May was in parliament at the time of the attacks, the prime minister is reportedly safe.
Update: According to the Associated Press, British police late Wednesday evening raised the death toll in the Parliament attack to five. At least 40 people were injured.
That afternoon, journalist Christopher Hope of The Daily Telegraph tweeted the following timeline and observations:
Shots fired outside Parliament. Loud explosion then shooting. Man lying shot outside gates to Parliament. Gun shots outside, Frightening.
The assailant, armed with a knife, reportedly ran his car into Westminster Bridge's perimeter fence and crashed into pedestrians. From there, he ran to the nearby Parliament building, and lunged at police officers. The BBC reports that, as a result, a police officer was stabbed in the Houses of Parliament. Commons Leader David Lidington assured that the "alleged assailant was shot by armed police."
Lindington also gave the following statement regarding the status of the investigation:
There are also reports of further violent incidents in the vicinity of the Palace of Westminster but I hope colleagues on all sides will appreciate that it'd be wrong of me to go into further details until we have confirmation from the police and from the House security authorities about what is going on.
Initially, the words "terror" and "terrorism" were not used by any U.K. officials to describe the happenings. Britain's M15 Security Service believed that "it is too early to say if the incident is terror-related," though London police are continuously handling the situation "as a terrorist incident until [they] know otherwise."
According to Rowena Mason, a journalist for The Guardian, police have insisted that "no terrorists have got into the Parliament building," assuring that "two have been caught on Westminster Bridge," suggesting that there were multiple assailants at work.
Local law enforcement officials have been wary to label the incident as being a "terrorist attack" until more information is gathered. The identities of the suspect, or suspects, in question, as well as the victims of the attack, have yet to be revealed. As of now, officials are working to secure the area, keeping everyone as safe as they possibly can in the wake of this jarring tragedy, keeping the location on lockdown while providing the emergency services needed for victims.