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UK police treating parliament car crash as terrorist incident
[LONDON] UK police launched a counter-terrorism inquiry after a car crashed into barriers outside Parliament Tuesday. Three people were injured in the incident, which bears similarities to a deadly attack last year.
The driver, a man in his late 20s, was arrested at the scene on suspicion of terrorist offenses, the Metropolitan Police said. Though he has not yet been identified, the man is not thought to be previously known to security services, according to Neil Basu, the UK's counter-terrorism police chief.
"This appears to be a deliberate act," Mr Basu said in a televised press conference in London. "We are treating it as a terrorist incident."
Parliament is in recess, and few lawmakers are likely to have been in the building, especially just after 0730 GMT when the incident took place. But the building is one of the world's major terrorist targets. In March 2017, a man drove a car through pedestrians on Westminster Bridge, before crashing into the railings and running into Parliament grounds through the gates. He killed four pedestrians and a policeman before he was shot dead.
London is used to living with terrorism, and the threat level is currently at the second-highest level or ‘severe,' meaning an attack is regarded to be highly likely, according to UK security services. The highest level - ‘critical' - is designated when a terrorist attack is expected imminently.
The attack drew a tweet from US President Donald Trump, who has previously criticised London officials for not taking a hard enough line on terrorism.
Television pictures from the incident on Tuesday showed armed police surrounding a silver saloon car that had hit heavy barriers outside St Stephen's Gate, the main public entrance to Parliament. Its hood was crumpled and its airbags had been deployed. The police said nobody else was in the vehicle, and no weapons had been recovered.
Emergency services took two people to the hospital, though one of them has already been discharged and the other is not considered to be in a life-threatening condition, Mr Basu said. A third person was also treated at the scene.
Officials will hold a so-called COBR emergency response meeting at 2pm in London to discuss the incident, the prime minister's office said in an emailed statement.
Police have "no intelligence at this time of further danger to Londoners or the rest of the UK," Mr Basu said.