(Photo: Stefan Wermuth/Reuters)
In a chaotic churning of violence, lone attacker Khalid Masood drove a sports utility vehicle through a crowd of people in London last Wednesday, killing four and injuring more than forty. After crashing the car through pedestrians, Masood proceeded to stab a nearby police officer to death at the scene, before he was fatally shot by police.
The murdered police officer was 48-year-old Keith Palmer, a member of the Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection Command with more than a decade of experience. A minister from the foreign office, Tobias Elwood, attempted to save Palmer with resuscitation, but the officer’s injuries were fatal.
The attack unfolded on the one year anniversary of the suicide bombings in Brussels, which happened on March 22, 2016, and killed 32 people, not including the attackers themselves. The attack is also hauntingly reminiscent of last year’s assault in Nice, France, where a man drove a cargo truck through crowds celebrating Bastille Day, killing 86 and injuring nearly five hundred. ISIL, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, claimed responsibility for both those attacks.
Until now, London itself has been free of these types of terrorist onslaughts since the city’s subway bombings over a decade ago; it appears London will now be joining Brussels, Berlin, Nice, Paris, and other major cities as a target.
The attack took place on Westminster Bridge, near the Parliament, where lawmakers inside the House of Commons were told to remain where they were while officers searched the area, office by office. Outside the building, turmoil and disorder ensued – a woman was pulled alive from the River Thames, and pedestrians crowded around the wounded, many lying bleeding or unconscious on the ground, and attempted to help.
Among those injured were people from ten different nations, from Italy and Romania to Greek and China. Three police officers were killed and three schoolchildren on a trip from France were injured; those wounded also included five South Korean tourists overwhelmed by the crowds trying to escape the scene.
Khalid Masood is British-born, speculated to have been radicalized to violent extremism and jihadism during his time in prison. He died not while shot by police officers, but while receiving medical treatment for those wounds.
Multiple countries have offered their condolences and full support, from Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. United States President Donald Trump offered full cooperation and support in responding to the attack, and in Paris, the lights of the Eiffel Tower switched off.
Investigators suspect the attacker was "inspired by international terrorism," and Prime Minister Theresa May said in her statement that she will never allow “voices of hate and evil to drive us apart.”
Marirose Bernal Staff Reporter