LONDON: Armed police arrested a man with a knife at the gates of the British parliament on Friday, nearly three months after an Islamist terror attack in exactly the same spot.
Officers swooped and fired an electric stun gun, while detectives are keeping an open mind as to whether the man had an extremist motive.
At 11:10am (1010 GMT), officers on routine duties approached a man who was acting suspiciously around the gates of parliament.
“The man reached for a knife, and police discharged a Taser,” London’s Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) said in a statement.
“The man — aged in his 30s — was arrested for possession of a knife. Nobody was injured.”
The man remains in custody at a London police station.
“At this time it is too early to understand the motivation so we have not declared this a terrorist incident.
“However given the location, the circumstances and recent tragic events, the MPS Counter Terrorism Command will be investigating this incident.
“We remain open minded as to whether terrorism was a motive.”
A bearded man, wearing black trousers and a grey sweatshirt, could be seen being held against the fence with his arms behind his back by a police officer.
Eyewitness Bradley Allen, 19, from Barking in east London, said he saw the man with clenched fists moments before he was detained.
“He stared at me and my mate and we walked past him. Within seconds there was a shout and police ran out of the front gate shouting at him ‘Get on the floor, get on the ground’,” he said.
“Within seconds he was on the ground. Armed police everywhere, telling everyone to move back, and we all got pushed back.”
– Parliament security reviewed –
A review of security at the perimeter of the parliamentary estate was ordered following the March 22 terror attack by Khalid Masood.
He drove into pedestrians on the neighbouring Westminster Bridge, killing four, then fatally stabbed policeman Keith Palmer, who was guarding the gates of parliament, before being shot dead by armed officers.
On April 27, a man was arrested across the street from parliament. Police said knives were recovered from him.
Khalid Mohammed Omar Ali, a 27-year-old from north London, was charged with the intention of committing acts of terrorism.
He was also charged with two counts relating to explosive substances in Afghanistan in 2012.
Friday’s arrest comes on the first anniversary of the murder of MP Jo Cox, who was shot and stabbed to death in her constituency by a man with links to neo-Nazi organisations.
More than 110,000 events were to take place around Britain between Friday and Sunday for “The Great Get Together” in honour of Cox, celebrating her belief that “we have far more in common than that which divides us”.—AFP