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Crash outside parliament in London being investigated as act of terrorism

Crash outside parliament in London being investigated as act of terrorism

Police in London say a man crashed a auto into a group of pedestrians and cyclists before hitting a set of barriers outside of Britain's Houses of Parliament on Tuesday, causing a number of injuries.

Images showed police holding the man, dressed in jeans and a black puffer jacket, in handcuffs as roads around parliament were sealed off. Khalid Masood, the man identified behind the attack then, had killed four people on Westminster Bridge and stabbed to death an unarmed police officer in the grounds of parliament before being shot dead.

Local businessman Jason Williams said he had seen a man drive a vehicle into a bollard outside the Houses of Parliament.

The driver was arrested at the scene by heavily armed police. Officers remain at the scene. "We will issue further info when we have it", police said.

In light of several previous attacks - on Westminster Bridge in March 2017 - and a number of suspected attacks that transpired to be accidents, speculation was rife as to whether the incident was an act of terrorism.

An eyewitness, Ewelina Ochab, told the Associated Press: "The vehicle drove at speed into the barriers outside the House of Lords".

Eyewitness Ewelina U. Ochab said she saw the incident take place from the other side of the pavement.

Barry Williams, a BBC member of staff based at Millbank, said: "I heard lots of screams and turned round. I turned around and I saw a silver vehicle driving from the crossing - very fast and close to the railings, maybe even on the pavement", Ochab said. A video showing police vehicles crowding the auto quickly went viral on Twitter.

"I saw the auto crash into the barrier outside Westminster Palace, with smoke coming out of the vehicle". I was told basically to move away, to run.

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London Ambulance said they had treated two people at the scene for non-serious injuries and taken them to hospital. "There was smoke coming out of the auto", he told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme.

Witnesses told British television networks that they saw the vehicle driving toward Parliament at high speed.

Reuters reports the area has been cordoned off and quotes a police spokeswoman as saying authorities are trying to piece together what happened.

Police and MI5 are running at least 500 live operations involving roughly 3,000 active "subjects of interest" at any one time - while there is also a wider pool of more than 20,000 individuals who have previously featured in probes whose threat must be kept under review.

Westminster Underground station, close to parliament, was closed to the public and the building cordoned off.

Unfortunately, the United Kingdom has seen its share of terrorist attacks in recent years.

Those incidents prompted officials to install concrete and steel barriers around the area to prevent a similar event happening again.

In March 2017, Khalid Masood, 52, ploughed a vehicle into pedestrians on nearby Westminster Bridge, killing four, before he stabbed to death an unarmed police officer in the grounds of Parliament.