U.K. House Of Commons Locked Down After Westminster Bridge Incident

Mar 22, 2017
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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

A very tense scene in London right now. And we're trying to sort out what is happening as we speak. Police have descended on Parliament after a car mowed down pedestrians on Westminster Bridge. Witnesses say that a man also went on the attack by the gates of the Parliament building. A police officer has reportedly been stabbed, and an assailant has been shot. NPR's Frank Langfitt is in London. And Frank, just bring us up to speed on exactly what we know right at this moment.

FRANK LANGFITT, BYLINE: Well, what it looks like happened, David, is - Westminster Bridge, many of our listeners will be familiar with this. This is the bridge that goes right up to Big Ben. It crosses the Thames. And it appears that a vehicle went across the bridge, went down the sidewalk. We can see from aerial helicopter shots that, in fact, there are at least four or five people being treated, lying on the sidewalk.

Then it came across the bridge. It crashed into a gate. And it smashed - the front end is smashed up. And then somehow, a man - we don't know if it's the same person - but someone got actually inside the gates of the Parliament building and apparently stabbed a police officer. And the assailant was shot.

GREENE: OK, so we don't know if it's the same person, different people.

LANGFITT: We don't.

GREENE: Don't know if this is related. But what's happening in Parliament, what's happening on that bridge, these are close by, right? I mean, tell us exactly where this is.

LANGFITT: Well, this is right down in the heart of the city. And you know, this is the kind - this is the scene. I mean, I actually am looking right now, seeing the car next to Big Ben. That's how close it is. And this is, of course, the scene that all of us, whenever there's a movie that opens in London, this is the opening scene of the movie - incredibly familiar, not only to people here, but of course, around the world.

GREENE: And I mean it's - it is, for gun shots to be fired in London - again, we don't know who fired them. It could just be the police officers. But this is not a city that is known for gun violence, not something people deal with.

LANGFITT: No, not at all, and this is - this is really shocking because this is a place that is full of tourists. I, in fact, when it's a sunny day, David, I get off the train. And I walk across Westminster Bridge. I go right where these people were. And lots of people do. And so for this to happen right in the heart of the city is very shocking. The second thing is it appears that an assailant was able to actually get inside the gates of the building that houses the parliamentarians, who are right now in the House of Commons under lockdown.

And this is also really shocking because I spent a lot of time in this area. It is heavily fortified, lots of police officers with automatic weapons, lots of big pedestrian - I mean, big barriers that you use to stop cars from doing exactly what this car was trying to do.

GREENE: OK. We'll be following this story. Obviously, it's developing right now, a very tense moment in London. Violence, a car mowing down pedestrians on Westminster Bridge, and Parliament is on lockdown as we speak. We've been talking to NPR's Frank Langfitt in London. Frank, thanks.

LANGFITT: Oh, you're very welcome, David. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.