LONDON: London's Metropolitan Police say that they are treating the crash outside of Parliament, during the UK capital's busy rush hour period, as a terrorist incident.
Authorities said in a statement Tuesday that a man in his 20s was arrested on suspicion of terrorist offences.
British counter-terrorism police will lead the investigation into Tuesday’s car crash outside the UK parliament in London that injured “a number of pedestrians”, but Scotland Yard said it was still “keeping an open mind.”
“While we are keeping an open mind, the Met’s Counter-Terrorism Command is leading the investigation into the #Westminster incident,” the force said in a Twitter statement.
Two pedestrians were injured when a Ford FIesta crashed into barriers outside Britain’s Houses of Parliament on Tuesday, with armed police swooping in to arrest the driver, the police force said.
While we are keeping an open mind, the Met's Counter-Terrorism Command is leading the investigation into the #Westminster incident.
— Metropolitan Police (@metpoliceuk) August 14, 2018
Several eyewitnesses said the driver's actions were deliberate.
“The car drove at speed into the barriers outside the House of Lords. There was a loud bang from the collision and a bit of smoke,” Ewelina Ochab said.
“The driver did not get out. The guards started screaming to people to move away.”
Jason Williams also saw a car moving at high speed.
“It looked deliberate. It didn’t look like an accident,” he said. "How do you do that by accident? It was a loud bang.”
“The male driver of the car was detained by officers at the scene,” the police statement said. “A number of pedestrians have been injured.”
None of the injuries are believed to be “life-threatening,” said police, who were yet to say if they suspected terrorism.
London Ambulance Service said they had treated two people at the scene for non-serious injuries and taken them to hospital.
Peter Rhodes, an assistant director of operations with the service, said: “We were called at 7.40am to reports of an incident on St Margaret Street, SW1. We sent a number of resources to the scene including three ambulance crews, responders in cars and an incident response officer.”
Our statement in response to the incident in #Westminster. We have treated two people at the scene for injuries that are not believed to be serious and have taken them to hospital. pic.twitter.com/ySXAgmYqfF
— London Ambulance (@Ldn_Ambulance) August 14, 2018
Armed police immediately surrounded the silver car after it crashed at 7.37am (06:37 GMT), pointing guns at the driver as he was removed from the vehicle, according to footage posted on Twitter.
Later images showed police holding the man, dressed in jeans and a black puffer jacket, in handcuffs as roads and Underground stations around parliament were sealed off.
Witness Ewalina Ochab told the Press Association that the incident “looked intentional.”
“I was walking on the other side. I heard some noise and someone screamed,” she said.
“I turned around and I saw a silver car driving very fast close to the railings, maybe even on the pavement.
“I think it looked intentional — the car drove at speed and toward the barriers.”
Westminster was the scene of a terror attack last year, when Khalid Masood, a 52-year-old British convert to Islam, drove a car at pedestrians on a bridge over the River Thames, before fatally stabbing a policeman on guard outside parliament.
The attack left five people dead and around 50 injured, and only ended when police shot Masood dead.
Britain endured a tumultuous period following the March 22 rampage, with four further terror attacks, including three in the capital at London Bridge, Finsbury Park and Parsons Green tube station.