A man has been arrested on suspicion of terrorism offences after he crashed his car into security barriers outside the UK’s Houses of Parliament.
London’s Ambulance Service said in a statement it had taken two people to hospital on Tuesday after a silver Ford Fiesta hit a group of cyclists and pedestrians, metres from where five pedestrians were killed in an attack last year. One more injured person was treated at the scene.
According to CCTV footage obtained by the BBC, the car mounted the pavement, drove against traffic, and crashed into a barrier outside parliament building.
Images circulating on social media showed police arresting the man, dressed in jeans and a black puffer jacket, after officers swarmed on his vehicle and removed him at gunpoint.
“At this stage, we are treating this as a terrorist incident,” Neil Basu, the Metropolitan police’s deputy assistant commissioner said, adding none of the injuries were believed to be life-threatening.
“The man is in his late 20s, has been taken to a south London police station and remains in custody. There is no intelligence at this time of further danger to Londoners or the rest of the UK connected to this incident.
“Our priority now is to formally establish the identity of the suspect and establish his motivation if we can. He is not currently cooperating,” said Basu.
The BBC, citing unnamed sources, said the man was from the Birmingham area of central England and, while not known to the MI5 domestic spy agency or Britain’s counterterrorism network, was known to police.
Parliament was immediately placed on lockdown and surrounding streets in the central London district were cordoned off to the public.
Eyewitness Ewalina Ochab told the Press Association news agency the incident “looked intentional”.
“I was walking on the other side. I heard some noise and someone screamed. 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 towards the barriers,” said Ochab.
Prime Minister Theresa May tweeted her “thoughts are with those injured in the incident”.
US President Donald Trump on Tuesday urged tough action against the “animals” behind the apparent attack.
“Another terrorist attack in London… These animals are crazy and must be dealt with through toughness and strength!” Trump tweeted.
Euronews/NBC UK correspondent Vincent McAviney tweeted a video of police officers rushing to the scene.
Breaking: Big armed police response to car which has cashed into Parliament barriers we are now being moved back pic.twitter.com/rYAqExq6rn
— Vincent McAviney (@VinnyMcAv) August 14, 2018
Al Jazeera’s Laurence Lee, reporting from Millbank, a few hundred metres from the crash, said while it appeared the car was deliberately driven into the barriers, it wasn’t a successful attack.
“While the incident has blindsided everybody, it’s very quiet here. Parliament is currently on summer recess, so if it was a deliberate attack, it hasn’t been particularly successful one for the attacker,” he said.
The crash came 17 months after Khalid Masood, born as Adrian Russell Elms, drove his vehicle at pedestrians on Westminster Bridge before fatally stabbing a policeman on guard outside parliament.
The attack left five people dead and about 50 injured, and only ended when police shot Masood dead.