London terror attack claims 5 lives, 40 injured

London - British police confirmed that the death toll in Wednesday's terror attack outside the Parliament in central London has risen to five.

Metro Police Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley told reporters that about 40 people were injured in the attack.

On Wednesday evening, a lone attacker ploughed a car into pedestrians on Westminster Bridge, injuring at least 40 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.

Rowley, also London's top anti-terror officer, said the officer who died in the attack has been named as Keith Palmer, who was 48 and had 15 years’ service as a police officer.

He said he would not comment on the identity of the attacker, although he suggested the police was aware of who the assailant was.

The attacker was shot dead after stabbing Palmer. The other three victims were all civilians, the police officer said.

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.

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 to find out if he had accomplices. – SAnews.gov.za Xinhua