How the attack unfolded
Car leaves carnage in its wake on deadly route to parliament
At about 2.40pm on Wednesday, a grey Hyundai Tucson driven by the attacker, Khalid Masood, drove on to Westminster Bridge. It mounted the pavement and mowed down passengers as it sped over the bridge. More than 20 pedestrians were hit and the first calls to the emergency services were made.
The car sped over the bridge before smashing into parliament’s perimeter wall outside New Palace Yard. Masood is said to have jumped out of the car and rushed through the Carriage Gates into New Palace Yard where he attacked two yellow-jacketed policemen at the security gates. One officer, 48-year-old PC Keith Palmer, was repeatedly stabbed and fell to the ground. The attacker turned to run but was challenged and shot several times by plainclothes officers.
Despite attempts to resuscitate them, Palmer, who had 15 years of service with the parliamentary and diplomatic protection service, and Masood died. Two other people, Aysha Frade, a British teacher, and Kurt Cochran, an American tourist, died on the bridge. Police said 29 other people were treated in hospital, some of whom had “catastrophic” injuries.
Parliament was adjourned and locked down as police imposed a security cordon including Whitehall and Victoria Street. MPs, journalists and workers spent several hours unable to leave parliamentary buildings.
Raids take place in London and Birmingham as British-born attacker named
Police named the attacker as Khalid Masood on Thursday afternoon. He was 52, born in Kent and detectives believe he was most recently living in the West Midlands.
Theresa May, the prime minister, said in her Thursday morning Commons statement that the dead attacker was a British-born man previously known to MI5 due to concerns over violent extremism. She said he was considered to be a peripheral figure who was not “part of the current intelligence picture”.
The Metropolitan police said Masood had previous convictions for a number of violent offences, including GBH and assault, but had never been found guilty of terror offences. His first conviction was in November 1983 for criminal damage and his last was in December 2003 for possession of a knife, police said.
Overnight, armed police arrested eight people during raids at six addresses across the country, including in Birmingham and London. The Birmingham raids included a second-floor flat above a row of shops on Hagley Road. The Hyundai Tucson used in the attack was rented from an Enterprise branch on Spring Hill Passage in Birmingham, one mile from the property raided in Hagley Road.
Attacker entered through a vehicle entrance
The Metropolitan police and parliamentary authorities will review security arrangements around Carriage Gates, the vehicle entrance opening on to Parliament Square, which the attacker ran through into New Palace Yard where he fatally stabbed the unarmed Palmer.
The gates are usually used by vehicles carrying ministers and selected staff and are often left unlocked or ajar because they are in frequent use. They also serve as an entrance to the underground car park where the Conservative MP, Airey Neave, was blown up by Irish republicans in 1979. General security around the Palace of Westminster has tightened considerably since then – gates are controlled with airport-style searches and there can be queues of up to 45 minutes at busy times.
In recent years, Parliament Square and the palace perimeter have been fortified to prevent the kind of vehicle-borne attacks seen last year in Nice and Berlin. No such measures were in place on Westminster Bridge where crowds of pedestrians were all too vulnerable to this type of assault.