London terror attack: ISIS claims responsibility for deadly rampage outside Parliament building
The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the terror attack that left four people dead, including the assailant and a police officer, outside of London’s Parliament building on Wednesday, according to the Amaq media agency.
"The perpetrator of the attacks yesterday in front of the British Parliament in London is an Islamic State soldier and he carried out the operation in response to calls to target citizens of the coalition," the Amaq statement said.
The claim of responsibility comes fewer than 24 hours after a man driving an SUV plowed into pedestrians on Westminster Bridge near the Parliament building.
Two people were killed and more than 30 others injured before the attacker fatally stabbed police officer Keith Palmer on the Parliament’s grounds. Police shot the attacker, who later was pronounced dead.
On Thursday, British police announced that six homes were raided and eight arrests were made in connection to the Wednesday terror attack that left four dead, including the attacker and a police officer.
Armed police carried out the raid in the central city of Birmingham, about 130 miles north of London; however, police said they believed the terror attacker acted alone during his assault on the Westminster Bridge near Parliament.
The identity of the attacker has not been released.
In an address to the members of Parliament on Thursday, British Prime Minister Theresa May said the man was British-born and had previously been investigated by intelligence services for links to extremism, but had been determined to be a peripheral figure.
The revelation came moments after Parliament held a minute of silence and reconvened less than 24 hours after Wednesday’s brutal attack.
"Our working assumption is that the attacker was inspired by Islamist ideology," she told members of Parliament. “We know the threat from Islamist terrorism is very real. But while the public should remain utterly vigilant, they should not and will not be cowed by this threat.”
May called the attack “sick and depraved,” and stood defiant against it.
“An act of terrorism tried to silence our democracy, but today we meet as normal … we are not afraid and our resolve will never waver in the face of terrorism,” she said. “Democracy and the values it entails will always prevail.”
While she honored the police, May also saluted the everyday actions of millions who went about their lives in London as normal and describing it as proof that the attack failed to break the determination of Londoners and Britons.
"As I speak, millions will be boarding trains and airplanes to travel to London, and to see for themselves the greatest city on Earth," she told the House. "It is in these actions — millions of acts of normality — that we find the best response to terrorism — a response that denies our enemies their victory, that refuses to let them win, that shows we will never give in."
The prime minister said people from 11 countries were among the wounded victims, including one American. Others included: 12 Britons, 3 French, 2 Romanians, 4 South Koreans, 1 German, 1 Pole, 1 Irish, 1 Chinese, 1 Italian, and two Greeks required hospital treatment.
Parliament began its moment of silence at 9:33 a.m. (5:33 a.m. ET), honoring the slain police officer, 48-year-old Palmer, a 15-year veteran of the Metropolitan Police and a former soldier. Parliament then returned to business, an act of defiance to those who had attacked British democracy.
"Those who carry out such wicked and depraved acts as we saw yesterday can never triumph in our country and we must ensure it is not violence, hatred or division, but decency and tolerance that prevails in our country," Trade Secretary Liam Fox said.
"Hear, hear!" lawmakers from all parties responded in unison.
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 the city remains united.
Parliament Square, Westminster Bridge and several surrounding streets remain cordoned off by police. Scores of unarmed officers in bright yellow jackets were staffing the perimeter tape, guiding confused civil servants trying to get to work. In Parliament’s New Palace Yard, a blue police tent was erected over the spot where the stabbing and shooting occurred, and two forensic officers worked at a trestle table nearby.
Metropolitan Police counterterrorism chief Mark Rowley revised the death toll from five to four: the police officer, two civilians and the attacker. He said that 29 people required hospitalization and seven of them were in critical condition. He also said that authorities were still working out the number of "walking wounded." Police had previously given the total number of injured as around 40.
President Trump was among world leaders offering condolences.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.