Islamic State claims attack outside British parliament
Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack outside Britain’s parliament which left four people dead, the group’s Amaq news agency said on Thursday.world Updated: Mar 23, 2017 18:35 IST
The so-called Islamic State on Thursday claimed responsibility for the terror attack in the Westminster village on Wednesday that left four dead, 29 injured, and the heart of Britain’s political establishment shocked but determined to ‘keep calm and carry on’.
Amaq, the news agency used by IS to broadcast propaganda, said the group was responsible for the attack that included the attacker ploughing a car through pedestrians on the Westminster Bridge and later trying to enter the houses of parliament.
It called the as yet unidentified attacker “a soldier of Islamic State”, as Prime Minister Theresa May informed the House of Commons that he was known to intelligence services, was born in Britain, and had been investigated some years ago by MI5 in relation to terrorism. She called him a “peripheral figure” who was not on the radar in recent times.
May also revealed that eight people had been arrested in overnight raids in London and Birmingham. Some reports said the car used by the attacker was hired in Birmingham, where raids were carried out, besides at some addresses in London.
MPs paid moving tributes to police officer Keith Palmer, who died after being stabbed several times by the attacker, as May said the threat level from international terrorism will remain at the second-highest level of ‘severe’.
She confirmed that the attack was related to Islamist terrorism: “Our working assumption is that the attacker was inspired by Islamist ideology. We know the threat from Islamist terrorism is very real. But while the public should remain utterly vigilant they should not and will not be cowed by this threat”.
The large number of tourists who usually throng the picturesque Westminster Bridge was reflected in the nationalities of those injured. May said those injured included 12 Britons, three French, two Romanians, four South Koreans, one German, one Chinese, one Irish, one Italian, one American and two Greeks.
May, MPs and others paid tributes to Foreign Office minister Tobias Ellwood, who was called a ‘hero’ for trying his best to save the life of police officer Keith Palmer, who was stabbed to death by the attacker within the parliament precincts.
Striking a defiant note on London and Britain returning to normal, May said:”But the greatest response lies not in the words of politicians, but in the everyday actions of ordinary people.For beyond these walls today – in scenes repeated in towns and cities across the country – millions of people are going about their days and getting on with their lives”.
“The streets are as busy as ever.The offices full. The coffee shops and cafes bustling.As I speak millions will be boarding trains and aeroplanes to travel to London, and to see for themselves the greatest city on Earth.It is in these actions – millions of acts of normality – that we find the best response to terrorism”.
The Union Jack flew at half-mast, some roads around the Westminster village remained closed, but the humdrum of everyday life quickly returned in most of London on Thursday as parliament sent out a message of defiance against terrorism.
In fact, even as Wednesday’s terror attack was taking place and was being dealt with by Scotland Yard near the Big Ben and parliament square, few appeared elsewhere in this sprawling metropolis appeared concerned or changed routines.
Eight arrests were made and addresses raided in Birmingham, London and elsewhere as Scotland Yard, parliament, London ambulance service and others observed a minute’s silence in memory of those killed. Leaders and cities across the world expressed solidarity with London.
London mayor Sadiq Khan announced a vigil at Trafalgar Square on Thursday evening. The threat to Britain from international terrorism remains since August 2014 at ‘severe’, and officials insisted that it would not be upgraded to the highest level of ‘critical’.
Mark Rowley of Scotland Yard said:“It is still our belief - which continues to be borne out by our investigation - that this attacker acted alone yesterday and was inspired by international terrorism…Clearly our investigation is ongoing - developing all the time - and is focused on his motivation, his preparation and associates”.
First Published: Mar 23, 2017 18:09 IST