UK police treat Parliament crash as terrorism, seek motive
Police flooded central London streets and cordoned off the city’s government district Tuesday, after a speeding car plowed into cyclists and crashed outside Parliament in what authorities were treating as an act of terrorism.
With the driver in custody, counterterror detectives were working to uncover the motive behind what they suspect is the fourth vehicle attack in Britain – and the second on Parliament – in 18 months.
“Given that this appears to be a deliberate act, the method and this being an iconic site, we are treating it as a terrorist incident,” Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu, Britain’s top counterterrorism officer, told reporters.
A rooftop camera recorded the silver Ford Fiesta driving past Parliament and suddenly veering sharply to the left, striking cyclists waiting at a set of lights, then crossing the road and crashing into a barrier outside Parliament. Armed police surrounded the car within seconds, pulling a man from the vehicle. Police said the driver was alone, and no weapons were found in the car.
Three people were hurt, none critically.
Police arrested the 29-year-old driver, a resident of England’s Midlands region who was not previously known to counterterrorism police or the intelligence services. Basu said the suspect was not cooperating with police.
Security Minister Ben Wallace said the man, whose name was not released, was a British citizen originally from another country.
Police said the car was driven from Birmingham in central England to London late Monday and was in central London for more than seven hours before the crash. Detectives were searching two properties in Birmingham and one in another Midlands city, Nottingham.
Police said they did not believe there was any ongoing threat from Tuesday’s incident. After a meeting of the government’s crisis committee, COBRA, officials said Britain’s terrorism threat level would remain at “severe,” meaning an attack is highly likely. It has briefly been raised to the highest level, “critical,” after some previous attacks.