Westminster: 48 Hours Later

As PM Theresa May delivered her statement on the Westminster attack Wednesday night, it was clear she had chosen her words carefully.

“The United Kingdom’s threat level has been set at severe for some time, and this will not change,” May said in the statement. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to all who have been affected – to the victims themselves, and their family and friends who waved their loved ones off but will not now be welcoming them home.”

Four were killed – a police officer, Police Constable Keith Palmer, 48; an American tourist, Kurt Cochran, 54; a British teacher, Aysha Frade, 43; and Londoner Leslie Rhodes, 75.

At least 50 people are being treated for their injuries. They hail from nearly a dozen countries, including Romania, France, South Korea, Germany, Poland, Ireland, China and Greece.

 

Here’s the information as we know it, 24 hours later:

The attack began around 2:40 p.m. (GMT) on Wednesday, March 22.  The attacker, now identified as Adrian Russell Ajao, 52, drove a gray Hyundai Tucson onto Westminster Bridge, hitting at least 20 pedestrians.  He veered onto the sidewalk for the remainder of the bridge, then crashed into the wall outside the New Palace Yard, near Parliament Square.

Many more pedestrians were left lying injured in the road as Ajao exited the car and ran on foot around the corner, entering Carriage Gates and attacking two police officers.  One, PC Palmer, was stabbed and later died of his injuries.  Ajao was shot and killed by police.

Ajao was previously identified as Khalid Masood and Adrian Elms, names which were determined to be aliases.  His name was not released until early Thursday afternoon, as the police were conducting raids across the London area and have arrested at least ten people in the ongoing counter-terrorism investigation.  Two of those arrests have been deemed “significant.”  The Met Police were able to determine Ajao’s identity in the course of their investigation.

ISIL has claimed the man acted as a “soldier of the Islamic State.”

Further video of the attack has been released, showing a Romanian woman who fell into the Thames after Masood drove on the sidewalk of Westminster Bridge. It is unclear if she was pushed or jumped into the water.

 

London Mayor Sadiq Khan condemned the attack at a candlelight vigil held in Trafalgar Square on Thursday evening.

“Those evil and twisted individuals who tried to destroy our shared way of life will never succeed and we condemn them,” Khan said. “Our response to this attack on our city, this attack on our way of life, this attack on our shared values, shows the world what it means to be a Londoner.”

Tributes and condolences have poured in from world leaders.  In one of many demonstrations of solidarity from across the world, the UN held a moment of silence for the victims.

Thursday’s session of Parliament was held as normal, and the Westminster Tube station and bridge were reopened fewer than 24 hours after the attack.