The incidents that unfolded outside the Houses of Parliament and on Westminster Bridge this afternoon mark two consecutive days of terror attacks on UK soil. While the details of precisely what happened today are still being released to the media what we do know is that a man drove a vehicle in to a crowd of pedestrians on Westminster Bridge before crashing in to railings. The attack eerily echoes similar attacks carried out in France and Germany over the last year. Figures on casualties remain unconfirmed at this time but at least five people have been seen removed from the scene by ambulance.
He then abandoned the vehicle and at around 1445hrs either he or an accomplice attacked a police officer outside the Houses of Parliament. The police officer was stabbed before the attacker was then shot by armed officers responding to the scene. British Prime Minister Theresa May was still inside the building at the time of the attack on the officer following her weekly Prime Minister’s Questions with the House of Commons and was quickly ushered away by her security team. The House of Commons was then put in to lockdown as the area was searched and secured by police officers.
While the incident at Westminster is getting world attention it has overshadowed a terror attack carried out on UK soil yesterday by Irish dissidents in Strabane, County Tyrone. A bomb exploded near two Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) officers patrolling Townsend Street at 2030hrs on Tuesday night. The attack occurred just hours after former IRA commander Martin McGuinness’s body was carried through Bogside in Derry just 12 miles away.
Speaking to the press, PSNI Superintendent Gordon McCalmont said;
“We are incredibly lucky that the lives of officers and other members of the community were not lost last night.
It is the latest in a string of attacks by Irish dissidents that included a sniper attack on a PSNI officer at a petrol station in north Belfast in January and an attempted bomb attack in the Poleglass area of the city. The Police Federation for Northern Ireland described the attackers who planted the bomb as “terrorists” while many republican politicians voiced their condemnation.