A deadly London terror strike plunged the city into chaos Wednesday when a bloodthirsty motorist mowed down helpless pedestrians on a historic bridge before crashing a House of Parliament gate and stabbing a police officer to death.
Three people were killed, including the unarmed cop, and more than 40 people were injured before police shot and killed the driver outside the heart of Britain’s political life.
The assault — the worst terror attack in England since the subway bombings of 2005 — brought carnage and chaos to Westminster, putting Parliament on lockdown and politicians on high alert.
“The location of this attack was no accident,” said British Prime Minister Theresa May after she was whisked away from the government center to a secure command post.
“The terrorist chose to strike at the heart of our capital city, where people of all nationalities, religions and cultures come together to celebrate the values of liberty, democracy and freedom of speech. But let me make it clear today, as I have had cause to do before, any attempt to defeat those values through violence and terror is doomed to failure.”
She called the attacker — who had yet to be identified — a “sick and depraved terrorist.”
The nightmare began shortly after 2:30 p.m. London time, when a Hyundai Tucson SUV speeding at about 50 mph plowed through a crowd along the iconic Westminster Bridge, which spans the River Thames.
Witnesses said panicked pedestrians either jumped from the bridge or were knocked over its side as the car mounted the pavement and picked off people walking. Some of the injuries suffered in the attack were described as “catastrophic.”
Photos and videos revealed scenes of carnage in the aftermath of the attack, which took place as Parliament was in session. One member of the British government, Tobias Ellwood, threw himself into the fray, giving mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to the officer who eventually died.
Among the injured were three French teens on a school trip to London, according to France’s Foreign Ministry.
“It was horrendous,” a witness told CNN, describing a scene of a dozen bodies scattered along the bridge. “Absolutely horrendous.”
The slain police officer, Keith Palmer, 48, was a husband and father who had had served in the Metropolitan Police Service for 15 years.
The car’s driver, carrying a pair of knives, crashed into railings on the bridge before abandoning the vehicle about 200 yards from the entrance to Parliament. Witnesses reported seeing the man, waving a knife as panicked people ran for their lives, sprinting directly toward the seat of government.
“This is a day that we had planned for — that we all hoped would never happen — but sadly it is now a reality,” said Mark Rowley, Britain’s most senior counterterror police officer.
London was already on alert for the funeral of former Irish Republican Army commander and Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, which is scheduled for Thursday.
The attack came a year to the day after the Brussels airport and metro station bombings that killed 32.
President Trump shared his concern.
“Spoke to U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May today to offer condolences on the terrorist attack in London,” Trump tweeted. “She is strong and doing very well.”
The White House was quick to offer support to its British allies.
“We condemn today’s attack in Westminster, which the United Kingdom is treating as an act of terrorism,” said White House spokesman Sean Spicer.
Britain “has the full support of the U.S. government in responding to the attack,” he added.
The NYPD said after the attack that it had redeployed long-gun teams to the British Consulate, City Hall and Grand Central Terminal.
The London Eye, a giant Ferris wheel on the South Bank of the River Thames, was also placed on lockdown, with many riders stuck inside its cabs. One visitor from Madrid tweeted a photo from the towering observation wheel, saying he had been up there for more than an hour.
Gunshots could be heard as the House of Commons session was suspended. Members of Parliament told the BBC they heard three or four gunshots. A heavy police presence quickly filled the area, and news crews reported that two people were seen lying on the grounds of Parliament.
Cops quickly surrounded the mortally wounded attacker as he lay on the cobblestone plaza. One police officer kept his foot on what appeared to be a knife, while pointing a rifle at the terrorist.
Metropolitan Police Commander B.J. Harrington said “a full counterterrorism investigation was underway,” and police presence around the city was ramped up for the evening rush-hour commute.
Witness Jayne Wilkinson told Sky News she saw a middle-aged man carrying a knife “7 or 8 inches long.”
“He was running through those gates, toward Parliament, and the police were chasing him,” she told Sky News.
At least 10 people were treated on the Westminster Bridge, according to the London Ambulance Service.
Another woman was pulled alive from the River Thames after jumping for her life.
Former Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski told Polish channel TVN24 he was in a cab when he heard a crash. When he looked up, Sikorski said, he saw people lying on the pavement.
“People started running up to them,” he told TVN24. “I saw one person who gave no sign of life. Another man was bleeding from his head.”
Condemnation was swift from within Britain and across the globe.
“Heartbreaking,” tweeted British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, a former mayor of London, who is in the U.S. meeting with American lawmakers.
“This is not the first attack on London or our Parliament — and won’t be the last — but our values will prevail.”
Vice President Pence tweeted a photo of his meeting with Johnson, and said, “We remain in solidarity to defeat those who threaten us.”
With News Wire Services
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