Yesterday, tragedy struck the UK, as a terrorist attack unfolded in London. The threat of terrorism loomed over Europe, and the attack only reminded everyone of its presence. The world stands with London in these trying times, and so do we.
Here are 10 facts to keep you up to date with everything that has been confirmed so far.
1. Details of the Attack
The attack happened during the afternoon on the 22nd of March, right outside the Palace of Westminster, also known as the meeting place of the houses of British Parliament. At the time of the attack, the Prime Minister herself was within the Palace, in the voting lobby. The assailant was armed with 2 knives, and drove a vehicle in the attack.
2. Significance of the Date
22 March was the same day the Brussels bombing happened last year, where 32 people were killed. Last year, the Belgian capital suffered three coordinated suicide bombings by attackers who were radicalised by the Islamic State. The perpetrator in yesterday’s attack is also suspected to be affiliated with the Islamic State.
3. Sequence of Events
The perpetrator, a single man, drove a large sports utility vehicle down Westminster Bridge near Parliament, knocking down multiple people on his way before crashing into a railing. He then left the vehicle, and proceeded towards Parliament, where he stabbed a police officer who was trying to stop him. The man was then shot down by the police.
As of right now, reports suggest upwards of 40 people were injured, and 5 people died in total, including the perpetrator himself. Among those dead include the stabbed police officer, and several others who were hit by the vehicle. One woman had been knocked off the bridge, but was later pulled from the river, injured but alive.
5. Dead Officer
The stabbed police officer was Keith Palmer, a policeman of 15 years’ experience. He had confronted the advancing man outside Parliament, but was fatally stabbed. He had not been armed. The 48-year-old officer was a husband and a father. In addition, three other policemen were injured by the vehicle, two of whom were in a serious condition.
6. Heroic Politician
After the assailant had been shot down by armed police, Tobias Ellwood, a minister in the Foreign Office, had tried to save the stabbed policeman’s life by giving mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. At that time, he had been lightly injured as well, as he was seen to be bleeding slightly. Mr Ellwood had previously lost his brother to the Bali terror attack.
7. Police Response
Police response had been swift, as the attacker had been quickly shot down, and members of the public evacuated. MPs were locked down in the House of Commons, around 1,000 people were taken to Westminster Abbey for their safety and then processed, and armed police swarmed the scene quickly. The police were praised for their speedy and calm response.
8. Prime Minister’s Response
PM Theresa May was quickly rushed in a vehicle back to her office, where she held a meeting with the government’s emergency committee. On Wednesday night, she issued an official statement from 10 Downing Street denouncing the attack.
Preliminary investigations have confirmed there was only one male assailant. As of now, the identity of the assailant has not been released, but Scotland Yard believes they know who he was, and are currently investigating possible associates. They believe the man was inspired by Islamist-related international terrorism.
10. Similar Incidents
This London attack is the latest in a disturbing trend of using low-tech methods, such as simple bladed weapons and vehicles, to conduct terror attacks. Recent similar attacks include the Jerusalem lorry attack in Jan 2017, Berlin Christmas market attack last year December, the Ohio university attack last year November, and the Bastille Day attack in Nice, France last year July.
According to Jeremy Shapiro, an official from the European Council on Foreign Relations, this gradual shift to more improvised weapons for attacks on softer targets is representative of a desperation on the part of the Islamic State, and the effectiveness of counter-terrorism efforts. However, we must remain vigilant, to protect ourselves, our family and friends, and thwart the efforts of terrorism.
Featured Image: straitstimes.com