Westminster attack prompts fresh calls for Parliament to be pedestrianised to stop ramming rampages

Today there were fresh calls to make the streets around the iconic site in London car-free following two serious attack attempts in the last 18 months.

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick said there was "no doubt" talks would take place over how to make the area safer.

It follows the arrest of a man, named locally as Salih Khater, accused of trying to ram Parliament in a Ford Fiesta – where three people were left injured.

Since the Westminster Bridge attack in March last year, Ms Dick said there had been an increase in the number of armed officers and barriers in place to protect the capital’s political heart.

But the commissioner, speaking ahead of a series of unrelated dawn raids that took place in south east London, this morning said: “As with anything there is a balance to be drawn.”

She added: “We are not going to give in, we are not going to just change our lifestyle, but it is important we take reasonable measures, as I think we have being doing over the last several months, to try and make sure that the most iconic sites, including those in central London, are well protected and should something happen there, that the police are able to respond very quickly with armed officers, which is exactly what we saw yesterday.”

Ms Dick praised the courage of the London cops who leapt into action following the “ghastly” incident.

The suspect in the attack, said to be a 29-year-old Brit national born in Sudan, left the West Midlands late on Monday night and spent hours driving around central London sparking suspicions he was looking for large crowds of tourists, according to cops.

At 7.40am on Tuesday, a silver car mowed down 15 cyclists before trying to ram his way into Parliament — only to be foiled by a steel barrier in what experts believe was a copycat of the previous Westminster attack.

The suspect is believed to have been spooked by an ambulance, and eyewitnesses said the driver appeared to be in shock as he was pulled out by armed cops and led away in handcuffs.

The man was arrested on suspicion of terror offences and taken into custody at a South London police station, but refused to cooperate with cops.

Westminster onlookers said the driver rammed through a group of cyclists waiting at lights, seriously injuring one and leaving bikes strewn across the road.

A builder said: “There were ten to 15 cyclists and he went through them. He kept driving on and smashed into the gates.

“There were about three or four cyclists left on the floor. There were people chasing after him.”

The Met’s Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu said yesterday: “Our priority is to formally identify the suspect and establish his motivations if we can. He is not currently cooperating.”

He said the driver was not known to counter-terror police, but he added: “Given this appears to be a deliberate act, the method and this being an iconic site, we are treating it as a terrorist incident.”

Witness Barry Williams earlier said: "It did look like an attack… Once he hit the cyclists he accelerated towards the barrier."

The attack sparked memories of the terrorist atrocity in March 2017 in which Khalid Masood, 52, killed five in Westminster, including PC Keith Palmer.

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