London: An assailant fatally stabbed a police officer at the gates to Britain's Parliament compound Wednesday after driving a vehicle into terrified pedestrians along a landmark bridge. The attacker was shot and killed by police, but not before killing four and injuring almost 40 people in what appeared to be Europe's latest high-profile terrorist attack.
London Metropolitan police released a statement saying they believed they knew who the attacker was, but did not provide a name. They also said that their "working assumption" is that he was "inspired by international terrorism."
Police said the man traced a deadly path across the Westminster Bridge, running down people with an SUV, then ramming the vehicle into the fence encircling Parliament. At least 40 people were reported injured.
Finally, the attacker charged with a knife at officers stationed at the iron gates leading to the Parliament grounds, authorities said. The police named the fallen officer as Keith Palmer and said that he was unarmed.
The dead and injured were left scattered on some of London's most famous streets.
"The location of this attack was no accident," said British Prime Minister Theresa May on Wednesday evening, after chairing COBRA, the government's emergency committee. "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 she said that "any attempt to defeat those values through violence and terror is doomed to failure. Tomorrow morning, Parliament will meet as normal," she said.
"This is a day that we planned for but hoped would never happen. Sadly, it has now become a reality," said the assistant Metropolitan Police commissioner, Mark Rowley, outside Scotland Yard's headquarters.