LONDON: London's Metropolitan Police say that they are treating a car crash outside 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 terror offences.
Three people were injured when a Ford Fiesta crashed into barriers outside Parliament, with armed police swooping in to arrest the driver, the police force said.
— BBC Breaking News (@BBCBreaking) August 14, 2018
Neil Basu, the Metropolitan Police’s assistant commissioner responsible for leading counter terrorism, said that the man arrested is “not currently cooperating” with police.
“It certainly appears to be a deliberate act,” he said of the incident.
The Fiesta car was seen swerving across the road and hitting cyclists before crashing into a barrier.
“The driver of the Fiesta, who was alone in the vehicle, was arrested at the scene,” Basu said.
The suspect has not been formally identified, and Basu said he believes the man is not known to the security services.
No weapons were found at the scene, he added.
“There is no intelligence at this time of further dangers to Londoners or the rest of the UK,” Basu 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
And on Tuesday, the British prime minister, Theresa May, told the media that she had been given regular briefings from security officials throughout the day.
A Downing Street spokesman, May said the threat to the UK from terrorist plots remains severe, and she also said that since March 2017, 13 Islamic-linked plots and 4 far-right plots have been successfully foiled by British security forces.
The spokesman for May also said that by the end of June this year, there were 676 "live investigations" ongoing by intelligence officials.
Several eyewitnesses to Tuesday's attack 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.
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 7:40 a.m. 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 7:37 a.m. London time, 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.”
Later US President Donald Trump urged “toughness” against those responsible for the attack, who he referred to as “animals.”
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.