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.
PSNI vehicle in Strabane, County Tyrone (BBC)
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.
The site based on Canwick Hill in Lincoln – historically known as “Bomber county” for its link with RAF Bomber Command – was broken in to on Sunday night. The thieves made off with two electric generators and stock totalling around £2,000 that was set aside for an open day that was scheduled to take place on March 19th. Not content with their stolen items, the thieves also shredded a wreath left at the base of the memorial spire.
IBCC Director Nicky Barr told The Lincolnite newspaper;
The team based on the site have been left with no heating, lighting, hot water, drinks or food as a result of the incident.
The International Bomber Command Centre is still under construction but aims to provide a world-class facility to serve as a focal point for recognition, remembrance and reconciliation for Bomber Command veterans and their families as well as the general public. The project includes recording, preserving and relating the stories of over one million men from all over the world who served with Bomber Command during the World War II.
Inspector Marc Gee, Community Inspector for North Kesteven, said;
This is a despicable crime which shows a total lack of respect for the community and the memory of those who bravely served our country during the war. If you have any information in relation to this crime please get in contact with Lincolnshire Police so that we can bring those responsible to justice.
The RAF transporter and Gibraltar Police (via Daily Mail)
In what could only be described as a dramatic series of events, an RAF Airbus A400M Atlas transport aircraft found itself deliberately blocked by a Royal Gibraltar Police (RGP) car on the runway at Gibraltar International Airport last Wednesday as the officers attempted to serve an arrest warrant for one of the passengers onboard. The RGP car was itself, reportedly pursued onto the runway by an MoD vehicle attempting to stop it from interfering in the aircraft’s take off but was unsuccessful and the RGP vehicle kept the A400 on the tarmac for two hours as the MoD and RGP negotiated over who had jurisdiction in the case.
The incident saw the closure of nearby Winston Churchill Avenue causing major disruptions to local transport and businesses. This also left huge numbers of travellers attempting to head to nearby Spain stranded at the runway barriers and caused vehicle tailbacks deep into the nearby town. Now, the local community want answers as to why the situation was allowed to escalate this far.
The situation arose when the Chief Justice of Gibraltar signed an arrest warrant authorising police officers to detain a serving member of the British armed forces and seize computer equipment belonging to them. When the RGP attempted to carry out the arrest however, the MoD refused to cooperate stating that as a serving member of the armed forces any investigation carried out was under their jurisdiction. When it was found that the person in question was aboard an RAF aircraft about to leave the island the RGP made the drastic decision to stop the aircraft. After two hours the person in question was handed over to the RGP and their laptop was seized.
In the last few days it has been reported in Gibraltar’s local press that the arrest concerned images on the laptop that were “paedophile” in nature but the name of the person in question or which branch of the armed forces they serve in has not been revealed. The MoD have only confirmed an incident had taken place stating;
As this incident has occurred as a result of an on-going police investigation we are unable to comment further at this time.
The Iraq Historic Allegations Team (IHAT) led by former Police detective Mark Warwick has said that there are many potential cases of abuse, torture and unlawful killing carried out by British troops in Iraq that may have taken place between 2003 and 2009. He said that some of these cases have enough evidence to warrant a criminal prosecution by the Service’s Prosecution Authority.
IHAT claim that around 280 Iraqis were killed under unlawful circumstances by British service personnel. Mr Warwick explained the investigation process with;
We would look at the credibility of the allegation in the first instance; and, when we’ve looked at a lot of these extra cases coming to us, some of them are duplicates of cases, some of them we’ve already identified as part of our own investigation process, and some are multiple allegations where we would investigate as a single allegation.
He also described the case of Baha Mousa as remaining “live!” Mr Mousa was a hotel receptionist who died in British custody. His cause of death was listed as the result of gratuitous violence.
It’s always rewarding to have first hand accounts passed on. This morning, Michael Howes made this interesting and quite frightening comment on one of the images of the Shorland SB300 in Defence of the Realm’sgalleries.
I would like to thank Michael for this informative comment and share it with everyone.
On a similar matter I would like to once again thank everyone who has read, liked, subscribed, commented or contributed to Defence of the Realm since its inception. 2015 is Defence of the Realm’s first full year and what a year it has been. I have learned so much myself working on articles and keeping up to date with the latest news but more importantly I have made several friends along the way who now get repeatedly pestered by me on Twitter.
With Storm Desmond hitting the UK hard, flooding in Cumbria became so severe that a major incident had to be declared resulting in the Army and Royal Air Force being drafted in to aid in emergency operations. Royal Air Force Chinook helicopters were used to ferry Army personnel and equipment in to the area who then joined forces with police, mountain rescue teams and firefighters all trying to reach those stranded in their homes.
Some 40,000 properties in the North West of England were still without power this morning, an improvement over yesterday’s 100,000. Water supplies in a number of towns were also affected by flood water and around 20 schools in the area shut their doors in the interests of safety for their students.
British soldiers training in rural County Derry were the subject of a bomb alert on Wednesday after a local charity was contacted by an unknown individual to make the threat. The threat was taken very seriously by authorities as it included a codeword that confirmed that whomever made the call had a Republican background. The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) responded with an air and ground search of the Drumsurn and Limavady areas but authorities have not confirmed whether they located an explosive device or not.
Up to 5,000 British soldiers are based at the Magilligan and Ballykinler bases in nearby County Down. In the last year the relationship between the British Army and the Republicans has been strained by several incidents. Earlier this year British troops were seen apparently patrolling the mostly Republican Drumsurn area angering the local community while last month a phonecall claiming to be from the IRA claimed responsibility for placing a bomb under a van being driven by an off-duty British soldier in north Belfast. The bomb was discovered after it broke loose from the vehicle. The “IRA” claimed they were targeting the soldier because he was in a relationship with a local woman and had made several attempts to kill him because of it.
With the arrest of a former British paratrooper by police investigating the events of Bloody Sunday in Londonderry in January 1972 tensions in Northern Ireland are at an all-time high since the ceasefire. The 66-year old former soldier, who has now been released on bail, is being questioned over the deaths of William Nash, Michael McDaid and John Young. He was arrested in County Antrim on Tuesday morning and held in Belfast.