Skip to main content

U.K. Parliament attack

At least five people have died and several were badly injured in what authorities say was a terrorist attack at the British Parliament

Union flags fly at half-mast in front of Elizabeth Tower (Big Ben) at the Houses of Parliament in central London on March 23, 2017, as a mark of respect for the victims of the March 22 terror attack at the British parliament.

The latest

  • British police announced two new arrests Friday and identified the birth name of the attacker as Adrian Russell Ajao.
  • British police said on Thursday that a man injured in Wednesday’s attack has died, raising the number of fatalities to five.
  • Hundreds of people gathered in London’s Trafalgar Square on Thursday evening in a vigil to remember the victims of this week’s attack near parliament.
  • Islamic State group says through its Aaamaq news agency that the London attacker was a ‘soldier of the Islamic State.’
  • At least 27 people are injured; several remain in hospital.

In this image taken from video police officers gather around a car adjacent to Houses of Parliament in London after the House of Commons sitting was suspended as witnesses reported sounds like gunfire outside.

The victims

  • Police officer Keith Palmer, 48, was unarmed and on duty protecting Parliament Wednesday when he was fatally stabbed by the attacker.
  • Aysha Frade, 43, a British teacher who worked at DLD College, was on her way to pick up her two children when the attacker struck her with his vehicle on Westminster Bridge.
  • Kurt W. Cochran of Utah also died on the bridge. He and his wife, Melissa, who was injured, were on the last day of a special trip celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary.
  • Police said Thursday a 75-year-old man injured in the attack had died.
  • Those injured include: 12 Britons, three French citizens, two Romanians, four South Koreans, one German, one Chinese, one Irish, one Italian and two Greeks, two Americans and one person from Portugal.

The attacker

Police identified the attacker as Khalid Masood , 52, a British-born man who was once investigated for extremist links but was considered a peripheral figure. His birth name was Adrian Russell Ajao.

Masood was born in Kent and was known to police. London police said he was most recently living in the West Midlands in central Britain. Masood had previous convictions for assaults, including grievous bodily harm, possession of offensive weapons and public order offences. He had not been convicted for any terrorism offences, police said.

Prime Minister Theresa May said the attacker was once investigated by MI5 intelligence officers over concerns about violent extremism. “He was a peripheral figure … He was not part of the current intelligence picture. There was no prior intelligence of his intent or of the plot,” she said.

The attack

“The attack started when a car was driven over Westminster Bridge, hitting and injuring a number of members of the public, also including three police officers,” Mark Rowley, Britain’s most senior counter-terrorism officer, told reporters.

“A car then crashed near to parliament and at least one man, armed with a knife continued the attack and tried to enter parliament.”

Reuters reporters inside parliament at the time heard loud bangs and shortly afterwards saw the knifeman and the stabbed policeman lying on the ground in a courtyard within the gates of parliament.

A police officer lays flowers around a photograph of police officer Keith Palmer, who was killed in the March 22 terror attack, in Westminster near the Houses of the Parliament in central London on March 23, 2017.

The attack took place on the first anniversary of attacks by Islamist militants that killed 32 people in Brussels.

The threat level for international terrorism in the U.K. was already listed at severe, meaning an attack was “highly likely.”

The day after

People light candles at a vigil n Trafalgar Square the day after an attack, in London, Britain March 23, 2017

Britain’s Parliament resumed work Thursday morning in a spirit of defiance.

“We are not afraid and our resolve will never waiver in the face of terrorism,” said Ms. May on Thursday. “We know that democracy and the value it entails will always prevail. This was an attack on free people everywhere.”

May addressed a packed chamber to deliver a speech praised by lawmakers from all parties as the normal adversarial tone of debate was replaced with one of sombre unity.

“The streets are as busy as ever. The offices full. The coffee shops and cafes bustling,” May said. “It is in these actions – millions of acts of normality – that we find the best response to terrorism.”

Hundreds of people gathered in London’s Trafalgar Square on Thursday evening in a vigil to remember the victims of this week’s attack.

The Globe and Mail’s European correspondent Paul Waldie reports from Westminster the morning after the attack on British Parliament

Canada’s response to the attack

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau condemned the incident as "an attack on democracy."

"We were all saddened to learn about today's incident near the British Parliament in London and I express my deepest condolences to the victims of this cowardly attack," Mr. Trudeau said.

Conservative Party Leader Rona Ambrose said the attack was "all too familiar to many members of this House and those who work here." Like many MPs, Ms. Ambrose said the attack was a clear reminder of the events of Oct. 22, 2014, when Michael Zehaf-Bibeau stormed into Centre Block in Ottawa with a gun after killing Corporal Nathan Cirillo at the nearby National War Memorial.

Speaking in Ottawa, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said he was unaware of any threat to Canada and saw no need to adjust the threat level in the country. It has been set at medium since Oct. 2014, when there was a terrorist attack on Parliament Hill and another one in St-Jean-sur-Richelieu.

"There is no known Canadian connection at this stage," Mr. Goodale said of the attack. "We are monitoring all factors to make sure [the threat level] remains appropriate but we have no reason at this moment to change the Canadian position."

Mr. Goodale said he has been in touch with his UK counterparts to offer any type of Canadian assistance if necessary.

Past attacks in the U.K. and Europe

  • The London attack took place one year after co-ordinated suicide bombings claimed by the Islamic State struck Brussels’ Zaventem airport and Maalbeek subway station, killing 32 people.
  • There was also a similarity with two other IS attacks last year where drivers deliberately drove into pedestrians. On July 14, an Islamic State follower drove a cargo truck into a crowd celebrating Bastille Day in the French city of Nice, killing 86 people. On Dec. 16, a similar attack in Berlin killed 12 victims.

Videos from the scene

Raw video shows aftermath of two incidents near the British parliament

Edit video

British MP gives account of incidents at U.K. parliament