A man has been arrested on suspicion of terrorism after slamming into pedestrians and protective barriers outside the Houses of Parliament in central London, reports the BBC. Two cyclists and pedestrians were injured in the crash, but there were no fatalities.
Officers swarmed the scene around 7:30 a.m. BST (2:30 a.m. EST), where they quickly detained the 20-year-old man. The country’s counterterrorism command is leading an investigation into the possibility of it being a terror attack.
Several eyewitnesses reported perceiving the car deliberately hitting people.
BBC staff member based at Millbank, Barry Williams, gave his account of the accident.
“I heard lots of screams and turned round. The car went onto the wrong side of the road to where cyclists were waiting at lights and ploughed into them. Then it swerved back across the road and accelerated as fast as possible and hit the barrier at full pelt. It was a small silver car and he hit it at such speed the car actually lifted off the ground and bounced. Then the police just jumped. Two officers managed to leap over the security barriers and then the armed police vehicles all sped towards the scene.”
Another eyewitness, Jason Williams, told the BBC his version of the events.
“There was smoke coming out of the car. I have seen people on the ground, lying on the road. I don’t know if they have actually been hit by the vehicle or not. I saw at least 10 people lying down. I was told basically to move away, to run. I have run for my life…it looked deliberate…it didn’t look like an accident.”
Several ambulances, firetrucks, and more than 10 police cars attended the scene and police dogs were seen sniffing around the area. Traffic has since been diverted from the scene of the accident and the entry at Westminster station has also been closed.
No other details have been released yet but Metropolitan Police announced on Twitter that they would keep the public updated as more information came out.
At 0737hrs today, a car was in collision with barriers outside the Houses of Parliament. The male driver of the car was detained by officers at the scene. A number of pedestrians have been injured. Officers remain at the scene. We will issue further info when we have it.— Metropolitan Police (@metpoliceuk) August 14, 2018
The Houses of Parliament are surrounded by steel and concrete barriers, which were implemented after the Westminster Bridge attack in March 2017 when Khalid Masood crashed his car into pedestrians on the bridge, killing four people. Masood then left his car, stabbed and killed a police officer, before eventually being cornered in a courtyard outside of Parliament.
Prime Minister Theresa May commented on the accident.
“My thoughts are with those injured in the incident in Westminster and my thanks to the emergency services for their immediate and courageous response.”