Car crashes into barriers near UK Parliament in Westminster, wounds several pedestrians; man held on suspicion of terror offences

A car crashed into the security barriers outside the UK's Parliament building on Tuesday, injuring a number of pedestrians as armed police arrested the driver.

Scotland Yard said as its counter-terror unit arrested a man on suspicion of terrorism offences. The incident happened at 7. 37 am, prompting a major police response, reported PTI. Police have put up a Terrorism Act cordon, a reaction to incidents of this nature near any high-security hotspots in the city.

 Car crashes into barriers near UK Parliament in Westminster, wounds several pedestrians; man held on suspicion of terror offences

Armed police stand in the street after a car crashed outside the Houses of Parliament in Westminster, London. Reuters

Westminster Underground station, close to Parliament, was closed and the building was cordoned off after the crash. No one was being allowed entry into the Parliament. As parliament is in recess for the summer, most lawmakers weren't using the building on Tuesday.

Footage on social media showed a handcuffed man being led away by heavily armed police.

Armed officers from Scotland Yard were instantly at the scene and one man has been arrested. "At 7:37 hrs, a car was in collision with barriers outside the Houses of Parliament. The male driver of the car was detained by officers at the scene," the Met Police said in a statement.

"A number of pedestrians have been injured. Officers remain at the scene," it said. The area around Parliament Square has been cordoned off as investigations continue.

Witnesses said they saw the car crash into the barriers deliberately. Heavy armed police presence could be seen in the area as the incident unfolded.

One man described the unfolding chaos as "very sinister". Speaking to The Sun, eyewitness Jason Williams said, "He went into the bollard at high speed, about 40 or 50mph. "Someone driving towards Parliament at speed, it wasn't a minor accident, it wasn't a road traffic incident. It was, in my opinion, something planned and something very sinister."

Prime Minister Theresa May commented on the incident. "My thoughts are with those injured in the incident in Westminster and my thanks to the emergency services for their immediate and courageous response," she said.

Home Secretary Sajid Javid also thanked emergency services for their quick response. The Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said he was in close contact with police.

The Metropolitan Police said it was "keeping an open mind" regarding the motive behind the incident as its Counter-Terrorism Command is leading the investigation. London Ambulance Service said in a statement that it had "treated two people at the scene for injuries that are not believed to be serious and have taken them to the hospital". The police added that they do not believe any of the injuries are "life-threatening".

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.

With inputs from agencies

Updated Date: Aug 14, 2018 15:55:59 IST