The ISIS group claimed responsibility for the attack outside Britain’s parliament which left four people dead, the group’s Amaq news agency said on Thursday. But it gave no name or other details and it was not clear whether the attacker was directly connected to the group.
“The perpetrator of the attacks yesterday in front of the British parliament in London is an ISIS soldier and he carried out the operation in response to calls to target citizens of the coalition,” the Amaq statement said.
Prime Minister Theresa May revealed on Thursday that the attacker who was shot dead was British-born and was once investigated by MI5 intelligence agents over concerns about violent extremism.
Police arrested eight people at six locations in London and Birmingham in the investigation into Wednesday’s lone-wolf attack that May said was inspired by a warped Islamist ideology.
About 40 people were injured and 29 remain in hospital, seven in critical condition, after the incident which resembled ISIS-inspired attacks in France and Germany where vehicles were driven into crowds.
The assailant sped across Westminster Bridge in a car, ploughing into pedestrians along the way, then ran through the gates of the nearby parliament building and fatally stabbed an unarmed policeman before being shot dead.
The dead were two members of the public, the stabbed policeman and the attacker.
“What I can confirm is that the man was British-born and that some years ago he was once investigated by MI5 in relation to concerns about violent extremism,” May said in a statement to parliament.
“He was a peripheral figure…He was not part of the current intelligence picture. There was no prior intelligence of his intent or of the plot,” she said, adding that his identity would be revealed when the investigation allowed.
The mayhem in London took came on the first anniversary of attacks that killed 32 people in Brussels. Twelve people were killed in Berlin in December when a truck ploughed into a Christmas market and 84 died in July in a similar attack on Nice waterfront for which ISIS claimed responsibility.
Westminster Bridge and the area just around parliament were still cordoned off on Thursday morning and a line of forensic investigators in light blue overalls were on their hands and knees, examining the scene where the attacker was shot.
“My thoughts, prayers, and deepest sympathy are with all those who have been affected by yesterday’s awful violence,” Queen Elizabeth said in a message.
The monarch said: “I know I speak for everyone in expressing my enduring thanks and admiration for the members of the Metropolitan Police Service and all who work so selflessly to help and protect others.”
Britain’s plan to trigger the formal process of exiting the EU on March 29 will not be delayed due to the attack, May’s spokesman said.
“TOOK OUT HIS RAGE”
It was the worst such attack in Britain since 2005, when 52 people were killed by Islamist suicide bombers on London’s public transport system. Police had given the death toll as five but revised it down to four on Thursday.
The casualties included 12 Britons, three French children, two Romanians, four South Koreans, one German, one Pole, one Chinese, one American and two Greeks, May said.
“We meet here, in the oldest of all parliaments, because we know that democracy and the values it entails will always prevail,” she said.
“A terrorist came to the place where people of all nationalities and cultures gather what it means to be free and he took out his rage indiscriminately against innocent men, women and children,” said May.
A minute’s silence was held in parliament and in front of police headquarters at New Scotland Yard at 0933 GMT, in honor of the victims — 933 was the shoulder number on the uniform of Keith Palmer, the policeman who was stabbed to death.
May was in parliament on Wednesday, a short distance away from the spot where the attacker was shot. She was swiftly whisked away as the chaos erupted, according to lawmaker Andrew Bridgen, who was nearby at the time.
A government minister was widely praised for trying to resuscitate Palmer, walking away from the scene with blood on his hands and face.
A crowdfunding page hastily set up to raise money for Palmer’s family attracted close to 20,000 pounds ($25,000)within three hours.
Some have been shocked that the attacker was able to cause such mayhem in the heart of the capital equipped with nothing more sophisticated than a hired car and a knife.
“The police and agencies that we rely on for our security have forestalled a large number of these attacks in recent years, over a dozen last year,” said defense minister Michael Fallon.
“This kind of attack, this lone-wolf attack, using things from daily life, a vehicle, a knife, are much more difficult to forestall,” he told the BBC.
Mayor Sadiq Khan called for Londoners to attend a candlelit vigil at Trafalgar Square on Thursday evening in solidarity with the victims and their families and to show that London remains united.
Many world leaders have condemned the attack in London.
The world’s largest body of Islamic nations and the Saudi king have condemned the attack, saying they reject such acts of terrorism.
Yousef Bin Ahmad Al-Othaimeen, who heads the Saudi-headquartered organization, said acts of terrorism contradict the fundamentals of Islam. The OIC is comprised of 57 Muslim-majority countries from around the world.
Meanwhile the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council, which includes Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain and Oman, described the attack as “a terrible crime that is incompatible with all values and principles of humanity.”
The Saudi Press Agency reports that Saudi Arabia’s King Salman sent a cable of condolences to British Prime Minister Theresa May in which he says the kingdom “strongly condemns this terrorist act.”
Also, Spanish politicians gathered on parliament’s steps in Madrid for a minute’s silence for the victims of the attack in in London, among them a British national with Spanish ancestry.
At the same hour, officials and residents of the northwestern town of Betanzos stood in silence in memory of 43-year-old Aysha Frade, one of the attack victims and whose mother was born in the town.
In a note on its Facebook page, the town hall said that “Aysha was the daughter of a Betanzos resident and was linked by family and emotionally to our town.”
Betanzos declared three days of mourning for the victims. Flags at the town hall and the parliament building were flown at half-staff.
Russian President Vladimir Putin says the attack outside Parliament in London underlined the need for pooling global efforts against terrorism.
In a letter to British Prime Minister Theresa May released by the Kremlin Thursday, Putin said the “forces of terror are acting in an increasingly treacherous and cynical way.”
He emphasized that “it’s necessary to unite efforts of all members of international community to confront the terror threat.”
Putin offered condolences to the families of the victims and wished a quick recovery to those injured in Wednesday’s attack.
Furthermore, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has condemned the attack outside Britain’s Parliament in London.
The rampage occurred hours after Erdogan warned that the safety of Western citizens could be in peril if European nations persist in what he described as their arrogant conduct.
In a series of tweets posted late Wednesday, Erdogan said Turkey shared “the pain of the United Kingdom.”
Erdogan tweeted: “We stand in solidarity with the U.K., our friend and ally, against terrorism, the greatest threat to global peace and security.”