Four dead including 48-year-old PC Keith Palmer in Westminster terror attack

PUBLISHED: 16:34 22 March 2017 | UPDATED: 12:42 23 March 2017

Mark Rowley, the national lead for Counter Terrorism Policing and the Acting Deputy Commissioner, issues a statement on the Westminster terror attack

Mark Rowley, the national lead for Counter Terrorism Policing and the Acting Deputy Commissioner, issues a statement on the Westminster terror attack

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MPs were locked in the House of Commons chamber amid the commotion - all Cambridgeshire MPs and their staff are thought to be safe.

Aerial view of  the Houses of Parliament for the UK along the Thames River at duskAerial view of the Houses of Parliament for the UK along the Thames River at dusk

The Met Police have confirmed that four people have died, including a police officer, and 40 have been injured in the terror attack in Westminster.

The police officer was named on Wednesday night as 48-year-old father and husband PC Keith Palmer.

Just before 2.40pm on Wednesday, an attacker drove a grey Hyundai into pedestrians crossing Westminster Bridge, then ran through the gates of the Palace of Westminster and stabbed the officer.

He was shot as he approached a second officer. The Met Police confirmed the assailant was among the five dead. Aysha Frade, a college worker, has been named as one of those killed on Westminster Bridge.

PC Keith Palmer, 48 - a member of Met Police's Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection Command - was killed in Westminster terror attackPC Keith Palmer, 48 - a member of Met Police's Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection Command - was killed in Westminster terror attack

Three other police officers were injured, two seriously. One person was rescued from the river.

MPs were locked in the House of Commons chamber and the session suspended for the rest of the day.

A number of Cambridgeshire’s MPs were at Parliament - all are safe. MPs had been called to vote and many were in the vicinity when the attacker struck.

Cambridge University mineral physicist Simon Redfern said he was “100 metres away” and heard three shots.

Prime Minister Theresa May condemened the attack as “sick and depraved” and said such attempts to undermine British values were “doomed to failure”.

Eight arrests have been made since the attack.

The flag at New Scotland Yard flown at half mast following today's events in WestminsterThe flag at New Scotland Yard flown at half mast following today's events in Westminster

The so-called Islamic State group has claimed the attacker was a “soldier of the Islamic State”

Mark Rowley, the national lead for Counter Terrorism Policing and the Acting Deputy Commissioner, said the force knew the identity of the attacker but did not name him as the investigation continued. He said they believed the man was inspired by international terrorism.

In a statement on Wednesday night, he said: “Today, in Westminster we saw tragic events unfold and our thoughts are with those who lost loved ones, who were injured, and all those affected by this attack.

“One of those who died today was a police officer - PC Keith Palmer - a member of our Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection Command.

Commander BJ Harrington speaking to media after Westminster terror attackCommander BJ Harrington speaking to media after Westminster terror attack

Keith - aged 48 - had 15 years’ service and was a husband and a father.

“He was someone who left for work today expecting to return home at the end of his shift and he had every right to expect that would happen.

“I can also now confirm three members of the public also lost their lives in this attack. Specially trained family liaison officers will be deployed to support them.

“And I confirmed earlier, the suspected attacker was shot dead by an armed officer - therefore meaning we now have five people in total who have died [later corrected to four dead].

“I will not comment at this stage on the identity of the attacker, but our working assumption that he was inspired by international terrorism.

“Also, at this stage, but it may change - we believe approximately 40 people were injured, some with serious injuries, including three police officers, two of whom are in a serious condition.

“Our investigation is continuing and is moving at a fast pace this evening - we will work through the night.

“We have hundreds of officers working on this investigation and they are focusing on the suspect’s motivation, preparation and associates.

“We are forensically examining a complicated crime scene that covers a wide area. As with all investigations of this nature it will take us some time to work through painstakingly all the evidence. Only then will the full picture be known.

“Officers are taking statements from the hundreds of people who were nearby as today’s at”ck unfolded.

“We are seizing CCTV and carrying out a fast-time examination of it. The lock down on Parliament has been lifted and we are working hard to reduce the areas we have cordoned off.

“I’d like to thank the public and Parliamentarians for their continued patience as we carry out detailed forensic examinations in the areas.

“The UK threat level has been at ‘Severe’ for some time and this level will not change.

“We have enhanced the scale of the policing operation to protect our communities across the country.

“As we continue to investigate today’s horrific events we do want to reassure the public that police and partners are doing everything possible to protect them.

“As a precautionary measure over the next few days we have increased the number of officers on duty to provide a highly visible, reassurance presence - both armed and unarmed - across the country.

“This will continue for as long as is needed. Terrorists have a clear aim and that is to create discord, distrust and to create fear. The police stand with all communities in the UK and will take action against anyone who seeks to undermine society, especially where their crimes are motivated by hate.

“We must recognise now that our Muslim communities will feel anxious at this time given the past behaviour of the extreme right wing and we will continue to work with all community leaders in the coming days.

“It’s essential for us to remain vigilant but to also work together - policing and communities - and unite against those who seek, through violence and extremism, to threaten, intimidate and cause fear.

“We ask the public to be alert and to report any suspicious activity to the police by calling 0800 789 321, or dialling 999.

“Whilst today is an incredibly sad and sombre day, especially for the MPS and everyone affected, it is only right that I mention the pride I feel in the swift and brave response from our officers - especially those who without fear for their own safety had to confront the terrorist.

The Met Police urged anyone involved to call its casualty bureau on 0800 056 0944 or 020 7158 0010.

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