What Happened At The UK Parliament? Reports Of Shots Fired Prompt A Lockdown
At 2:14 p.m. local time on Wednesday, a report of shots fired caused a flurry of people to try to figure out what happened at the U.K. Parliament. The building has gone on lockdown, according to CNBC. Police confirmed a "firearm incident" and said that officers were on the scene, and that a gunman had been shot by the police. Early reports reference both Parliament and the Westminster Bridge; it's unclear at the time of publication whether these are separate incidents. Police said they were called to the bridge, and an assailant breached the perimeter of Parliament before stabbing an officer and subsequently being shot. There are also reports of a car running into pedestrians nearby, but it's unknown if the report is accurate, or if the two incidents are related. The BBC has reported that a witness claims a car "mowed down at least 5 people" on the bridge.
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.
Prime Minister Theresa May was seen being evacuated from the scene, and is confirmed to be unharmed. Members of Parliament reported hearing several shots fired. David Lidington, Leader of the House of Commons, confirmed the shooting incident with the BBC, but declined to comment on the details of what he referred to as "further violent incidents" until the police addressed the matter.
Multiple ambulances have been dispatched to the area, and Lidington said that an air ambulance was on the scene "to remove the casualties," which would imply that the incident was more severe than originally reported. Scotland Yard received a report that several people were injured on the bridge, giving credence to the story of a car hitting pedestrians. Conflicting witness statements claim that the assailant who was shot by police may have been armed with either a gun, a stick, or a kitchen knife.
The Independent has received reports that about a dozen people were hit by a car on the bridge, and some witnesses claim the same car then "rammed into the gates of Westminster" before the suspect exited the vehicle. But another witness told the BBC that the man was on foot. It's unclear if more than one assailant was involved, but police said that they will treat the case as a "terrorist incident" until it was proven not to be. The public is advised to avoid the area until the investigation is complete, and the Westminster underground station has been temporarily closed. The incident occurred on the one-year anniversary of the bombings at a Brussels airport and metro station that killed 32 people. Whether that's a coincidence remains to be seen.