British police made multiple arrests Thursday in connection with an attack near Parliament that killed a police officer and two civilians and injured dozens of people in an incident that investigators believe was “inspired by international terrorism.”
Mark Rowley, the acting deputy commissioner of the London Metropolitan Police, said seven people were arrested as part of raids on six different addresses and inquiries were taking place in areas including London and Birmingham, central England. Rowley said police know the identity of the attacker, but were not ready to name him. Nobody has claimed responsibility for the attack and investigators think he acted alone.
Rowley revised down the number of dead to three — Keith Palmer, 48, the police officer with 15 years of service who has stabbed outside Parliament, and two civilians — a woman in her 40s and a man in his 50s. The attacker, shot by police, brought the total death toll to four.
The Spanish Foreign Ministry identified the dead woman as Aysha Frade, a British national whose mother is Spanish. She worked as a Spanish teacher at a nearby college, the BBC reported. The man in his 50s has not been named.
“Our investigation is ongoing — developing all the time — and is focused on (the attacker’s) motivation, his preparation and associates,” Rowley said. He said that there was no specific information about further threats to the public.
The car used in the attack — a gray Hyundai i40 — was rented in Birmingham, according to the BBC.
Pedestrians were mowed down by a car on Westminster Bridge and Palmer was then fatally stabbed after the vehicle crashed into the gates of Parliament and the attacker scaled a fence. Of the 40 people injured in the incident, 29 required hospitalization and seven of them were in critical condition.
The injured were a mix of nationalities including from China, France, Romania and South Korea.
Both houses of Parliament resumed normal operations Thursday. A minute’s silence to honor the victims was held shortly after 9.30 a.m. local time. The crime scene and the area surrounding remained cordoned and police were asking people to steer clear of the areas close to the Parliament. A candlelit vigil will be held in Trafalgar Square later Thursday, the office of London’s mayor announced.
Late Wednesday, Prime Minister Theresa May condemned the assault as a “sick and depraved terrorist attack.”
“The location of this attack was no accident. The terrorists chose to strike at the heart of our Capital City, where people of all nationalities, religions and cultures come together to celebrate the values of liberty, democracy and freedom of speech. Any attempt to defeat those values through violence and terror is doomed to failure.”