LONDON – Police in Britain have arrested seven people in overnight raids in London, Birmingham and elsewhere in connection with the Wednesday attack on the Houses of Parliament by a knife-wielding man who first drove a vehicle down a crowded sidewalk.
Speaking Thursday morning, the top antiterrorism officer for the London Metropolitan Police (Scotland Yard), Mark Rowley, revised the death toll in the attack down by one, saying two civilians — a woman in her 40s and a man in his 50s — were killed, along with a police officer and the attacker. On Wednesday, Rowley had said three civilians died of their injuries.
He also said 29 people were wounded including seven who remained in critical condition on Thursday. That toll was also significantly lower than reported the previous day in the wake of the attack, when Rowley said 40 people were injured.
British media quoted witnesses as saying the suspect had lived at a home raided in Birmingham, which is about 120 miles north of the capital city.
“The man from London lived here. They came and arrested three men,” a man who works near the raided home told the Press Association news agency. Police did not confirm that information.
The suspect — who has yet to be publically identified — was fatally shot by an armed police officer after he stabbed the first officer he encountered just inside a gated entrance to the Parliament campus. Police Constable Keith Palmer died of his stab wounds.
The civilian deaths occurred on Westminster Bridge, which spans the River Thames. The attacker drove an SUV down the wide sidewalk of the bridge, plowing through throngs of tourists and other people going about their business in the heart of central London.
Rowley reiterated Thursday that police believe they know the identity of the slain attacker, and they know, “that the media are making progress in identifying the attacker — I would continue to ask that his name is not published whilst we are at such a sensitive stage in our investigation.”
At the north end of the bridge, on the bank of the Thames, sits the Palaces of Westminster, home of the oldest parliament in the world and where the attacker’s car smashed into a perimeter fence and came to a stop.
From there the attacker, armed with at least one knife, walked through the same gate into the Parliament campus used by lawmakers and was immediately challenged by Palmer. He stabbed Palmer and was shot by another, armed officer moments later as he tried to walk into the Houses of Parliament.
Rowley reiterated on Thursday morning that Scotland Yard does not believe any other suspects were involved in the attack. He said Wednesday that police believe the man acted alone, inspired by international terrorism.
“At this stage, we have no specific information about further threats to the public,” said Rowley. “Clearly our investigation is ongoing – developing all the time – and is focused on his motivation, his preparation and associates.”