British police are investigating a suspicious package found near Westminster and some media have reported officers carried out a controlled explosion.
A spokesman for London’s Metropolitan Police said they were investigating a suspicious package found on a road just up from where a man killed three people in an attack near Parliament on Thursday.
The spokesman declined to comment on a report carried by Sky News and others that police had carried out a controlled explosion on the package.
It comes after the London terrorist who murdered three people before he was shot dead by police was named as a bodybuilding obsessed married dad-of-three.
Islamist convert former English teacher Khalid Masood, 52, who mowed down pedestrians on Westminster Bridge before storming Parliament and stabbing a police officer to death, was born in Kent but later moved to the West Midlands.
Scotland Yard said Masood had previous convictions for assaults, including GBH, possession of offensive weapons and public order offences. He had not been convicted of any terrorism offences.
Masood’s first conviction was in November 1983 for criminal damage and his last conviction was in December 2003 for possession of a knife.
The Metropolitan Police said there was “no prior intelligence about his intent to mount a terrorist attack”. The killer was known by a number of aliases including Khali Choudri, according to Sky News.
Islamic State claimed responsibility for Wednesday’s London terror attack. The jihadi news network released a statement saying a “source to Amaq” had confirmed the attacker was “a soldier of the Islamic State” who was answering calls to target British citizens.
“The attacker yesterday in front of the British parliament in London was a soldier of the Islamic State, executing the operation in response to calls to target citizens of coalition nations,” the statement said.
The extremist news network did not name Masood or provide further details. IS notoriously take credit for any attack on Western soil, even if the attacker was working alone. This would be the first Islamic State attack on English soil.
Crowds have gathered at Trafalgar Square in London for a vigil in honour of the three people killed in the terror attack.
Some people wore T-shirts with the words: “I am a Muslim, ask me anything” printed on them, the UK Telegraph reported. Three members of the group held a banner reading: “Love for all, hatred for none”.
Speaking ahead of the 6pm vigil, London Mayor Sadiq Khan said: “Tonight in Trafalgar Square there will be a vigil for Londoners who are wondering what to do.
“To show solidarity with those who have lost their lives and their families, to show solidarity with those who have been injured, and to say to the terrorists: ’You will not succeed in cowering us, we will remain united, and we are the greatest city in the world’.”
A 54-year-old father from the US state of Utah was named as one of the three people killed in the attack.
Kurt Cochran, 54, was touring Europe with his 46-year-old wife, Melissa. They were reportedly the first people mowed down by a terrorist on the south end of Westminster Bridge.
His wife was identified as the blood-splattered woman whose face was plastered on many front pages around the world.
Mr Cochran reportedly either jumped or was pushed over the edge of the bridge onto steps beneath it. He died of his injuries, while his wife is recovering in hospital after suffering a broken leg and rib.
US President Donald Trump tweeted condolences to Mr Cochran’s family.
Ms Payne Cochran’s parents are serving as temple missionaries for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in London, KUTV reported. Her brother, Clinton, released a statement through the LDS Church.
“Our family is heartbroken to learn of the death of our brother and son-in-law, Kurt W. Cochran, who was a victim of Wednesday’s terrorist attack in London. Kurt was a good man and a loving husband to our sister and daughter, Melissa,” he said.
He continued: “They were in Europe to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary, and were scheduled to return to the United States on Thursday. Melissa also received serious injuries in the attack, and is being cared for in the hospital,” he said.
“We express our gratitude to the emergency and medical personnel who have cared for them and ask for your prayers on behalf of Melissa and our family. Kurt will be greatly missed, and we ask for privacy as our family mourns and as Melissa recovers from her injuries.”
A GoFundMe page has been set up to try and help support Ms Payne Cochran.
The other two victims of the attack have been named as mother-of-two Aysha Frade, 43, who died on Westminster Bridge as she went to collect her children from school, and police officer Keith Palmer, 48, who was stabbed by the assailant.
The woman who survived the London terror attack after falling from Westminster Bridge was revealed to have been on holidays and preparing to celebrate her fiance’s birthday.
Dramatic footage shows a woman identified as Romanian tourist Andreea Cristea, 29, plummeting six meters into the freezing River Thames as a speeding car flies past, smashing into pedestrians on the bridge.
The Port of London Authority said she was in a critical condition and was given emergency care on a pier before being rushed to hospital.
The British media is reporting that Ms Cristea was in London with her fiance Andrei Burnaz to celebrate his birthday today. Mr Burnaz is reported to have suffered a minor injury.
LONDON ATTACK: How the carnage unfolded
Paul Ciocoiu, a spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Romania, told Digi 24 TV: “According to information we have, she (Ms Cristea) would be the pedestrian hit by a car and thrown into the Thames and then recovered. Ministry contacted the family.
“We do not know when the family arrived in Britain. If the family require consular assistance, of course, the ministry provides help punctually.
“There is a crisis cell set up immediately after the conclusion of the terrorist attack. There are the usual procedures, to keep in touch with British authorities, hospital authorities and family seriously injured citizen.”
A Muslim group has raised more than STG11,000 ($18,000) to support the victims of the London terror attack and their families.
Muslims United for London started a fundraising campaign, on the promise that all the money will “go to the victims and the families of the victims most affected by the tragic events”.
After hitting the STG10,000 ($16,200) target within hours, a new target of STG20,000 ($32,500) was set.
In a statement, the group wrote on the page: “While no amount of money will bring back lives lost or take away from the pain the victims and their families are going through, we hope to lessen their burden in some way as citizens, Londoners, and human beings.”
Prime Minister Theresa May said Masood, who launched the deadly attack at Westminster, was born in Britain and known to the intelligence services.
“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,” she told MPs in her first House of Commons speech after the attack.
“He was a peripheral figure,” she added. “The case is historic, he was not part of the current intelligence picture.”
She said there had been no prior intelligence of his intent nor of the plot. The prime minister said it was still believed that Masood acted alone and there was “no reason to believe” further attacks on the public were planned.
PICTURES: London’s latest terror atrocity
Queen Elizabeth II, who sent her sympathys to all the victims and their families, cancelled plans to open the new Scotland Yard building today “for very understandable reasons.”
“I look forward to visiting at a later date,” she said.
She praised the work of emergency service personnel who responded to the terror attack.
“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,” she said.
All eight people arrested after the London terror attack are suspected of preparing terrorist acts, police said.
Mark Rowley, acting deputy commissioner, said the arrests were made following raids on six homes in London, Birmingham and other parts of England.
Police on Thursday were still searching properties in Wales, Birmingham and East London.
“Hundreds of detectives have been working through the night and during that time I can confirm we have searched six addresses,” Mr Rowley said.
It has also been revealed that the Hyundai 4×4 used by Masood in the attack was rented from an Enterprise outlet in Solihull.
A statement from Enterprise car hire said: “We can confirm that the car used in the tragic attack in London yesterday afternoon was one of ours.
“An employee identified the vehicle after seeing the licence plate in an image online. We ran another check to verify, and immediately contacted the authorities. We are co-operating fully with the authorities and will provide any assistance that we can to the investigation.”
An Australian woman was injured in the attack. Patricia Neis-Beer, a German-born Australian resident from South Australia, was among those hurt when Masood used a speeding car to mow down tourists along the Westminster Bridge.
Ms Neis-Beer, 54, who has a 26-year-old son called Jordan and a 19-year-old daughter called Paige and who works in an organic market and cafe in Stirling in Adelaide, was one of those injured in the first mass-casualty terrorism attacks on British soil in more than a decade.
She is currently recovering in hospital after undergoing surgery for a crushed foot but is in good spirits, Australian High Commissioner to the UK Alexander Downer told Channel Seven’s Sunrise program on Friday morning
In an odd coincidence, Mr Downer said Ms Neis-Beer lived in the Adelaide Hills town where he was born, Bridgewater.
“I have been to the place where she works to have a coffee on many an occasion,” he said.
“She is well known to many of us in the Adelaide Hills.
“It is quite a coincidence that she should have been here on that occasion.
Mr Downer said Ms Neis-Beer was being well cared for and the consulate was providing her with assistance.
“In these sorts of circumstances, we don’t want to be doing more for her than she wants, we want to make sure she is properly looked after and cared for,” he said.
“At the moment, at the hospital she is in she is being well looked after. The quality of care is very good and we keep an eye on her.”
Mrs May visited a hospital on Thursday where she spoke to victims of the London attack. About 40 people were injured in the attack, of whom 29 remain in hospital, seven in critical condition. Four people, including the attacker, died.
“She has signed the book of condolence and she has recently returned to Number 10 (Downing Street) after a private visit to a hospital where she spent around 40 minutes speaking with victims of yesterday’s events, ward staff, clinical staff … to thank them for their work,” a spokesman said.
Police constable Keith Palmer, 48, who was stabbed multiple times outside Westminster, died in the attack. He had a five-year-old daughter, and had joined the parliamentary and diplomatic protection command less than a year ago.
His family released a statement on Thursday: “Keith will be remembered as a wonderful dad and husband. A loving son, brother and uncle. A long-time supporter of Charlton FC. Dedicated to his job and proud to be a police officer, brave and courageous. A friend to everyone who knew him. He will be deeply missed. We love him so much. His friends and family are shocked and devastated by his loss.”
WESTMINSTER BRIDGE: A landmark of fear and resolve
More than STG267,000 ($434,000) has been donated to a JustGiving fund, set up by the The Metropolitan Police Federation for the police officer’s family
“Every day, all over London and the rest of the UK, Police Officers risk their lives to protect and defend us — in the wake of this tragedy our thoughts are with Keith’s family and all the people who are injured have lost their lives,” the police federation wrote.
PC Palmer was a member of the Met’s Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection command with 15 years service and is believed to have been a member of the Royal Artillery before coming a cop, according to The Sun.
Mark Rowley, the national lead for Counter Terrorism Policing and the Acting Deputy Commissioner, said: “He was someone who left for work today expecting to return home at the end of his shift and he had every right to expect that would happen.”