Emergency services staff and forensic officers work on Westminster Bridge in London, Britain on March 22, 2017. Four people have been killed, including the stabbed officer and a male terrorist, and at least 20 injured in an attack on the Houses of Parliament Wednesday afternoon in a terrorist attack, police announced. (Xinhua/Tim Ireland)
LONDON, March 22 (Xinhua) -- Prime Minister Theresa May gave her first public reaction Wednesday night to London's worst terror attacks since 2005, which has so far resulted in the deaths of four victims and injuries to more than 20 others.
May was speaking outside 10 Downing Street after she attended a meeting with Britain's top security advisors following the attack which left an armed police officer guarding the Houses of Parliament one of those to die after he was stabbed by a lone terrorist armed with a knife.
May described the terror attack "sick and depraved" and she praised the bravery of police officers who ran towards danger as they told people to move to safety. May confirmed Britain's current threat level, of severe, would remain in place.
"The location of this attack was no accident," said May, "the terrorist chose to strike at the heart of our capital city where people of all nationalities, religions and cultures, come together. These streets of Westminster, home to the world's oldest parliament are ingrained with a spirit of freedom. That it is why it is a target for those who reject those values. Any attempt to defeat those values through terror or violence is doomed to failure."
"Tomorrow parliament will come together as normal, and Londoners, and people from around the world who have come to this great city, will get up and go about their day as normal. They will board their trains, they will leave their hotels, they will walk these streets, they will live their lives. And we will all move forward together, never giving in to terror and never allowing the voices of hate and evil to drive us apart," she said.
A lone attacker ploughed a car into pedestrians on Westminster Bridge, injuring at least 20 people, in what bore the hallmarks of similar attacks on mainland Europe. Some of the victims were said to have suffered catastrophic injuries. Three police officers and a number of French children were among the casualties.
The car then sped off and crashed into a fence surrounding the nearby House of Commons. The Metropolitan Police said at least one man, armed with a knife, continued the attack, trying to enter the Houses of Parliament.
The attacker stabbed an armed policeman on protection duty at the Houses of Parliament and was shot by other armed officers. Both the stabbed officer and the attacker died later from their injuries. The slain officer's family were told of the tragedy.
As the stabbed officer lay injured on the ground at the Houses of Parliament, government minister Tobia Ellwood, a former army captain, tried in vain to save his life.
As people, many of them international tourists, realized a terror attack was in progress, they ran for cover to escape the danger. Many were in tears and others looked panic stricken.
As a large area of Central London was sealed off, hundreds of politicians and staff, as well as visitors inside the Houses of Parliament, were placed in lock-down as a huge security operation swung into action.
May was surrounded by armed police officers as she was whisked from the House of Commons to the safety of 10 Downing Street.
As the lockdown was lifted, hundreds of politicians from both the House of Commons and the House of Lords burst into applause for the way the police had protected them.
Several hundred young primary school children, on a day visit to parliament, were kept in a safe area within the Palace of Westminster until police were satisfied there were no bombs or other terrorists. The kids were then led to safety, holding hands, as they hurried from the building, guarded by a large presence of armed police officers.
On the opposite side of the River Thames hundreds of people on the London Eye were kept in their pods on the big wheel until police deemed it safe. Many were interviewed as potential witnesses as they had a bird's eye view of the terror attack.
The streets around Westminster and Whitehall, from Trafalgar Square, remained eerily silent Wednesday night as a blockade continued.
Police are now investigating the man behind the terror attack, aiming to discover if he had accomplices.