The old continent is under serious threat of further attacks. This is a source of tension for the governments and people of the region. 2016 was a nefarious year before this scourge started, will history repeat itself in 2017? Only time will tell.
The recent terrorist attack on London, one of the most protected cities in the world, shows that extremism knows no limits and still has the main capital European capital cities in its cross hairs.
The attacker, identified as Khalid Masood, used a car to run over a crowd of pedestrians on Westminster Bridge on the afternoon of 22 March before then crashing into the protective gates around the parliament buildings.
During this attack, Masood, a 52 year old British Muslim, killed two civilians and brutally stabbed to death a policeman who was protecting the gardens of this emblematic building, as well as killing another pedestrian who died later after having been hospitalised.
Police have said that the terrorist was from Kent in the south east of England and was born Adrian Russell Elms, but changed his name in 2013 after converting to Islam.
The attackers’ pandemonium of terror came to an end when the London Metropolitan Police officers brought him down in the same location where he had wounded policeman Keith Palmer.
The murdered civilians were a teacher from London, Aysha Frade and a tourist from the United States, Kurt Cochran. The fourth victim was Leslie Rhodes, a man of 75 who died from multiple wounds inflicted during the assault.
A total of five people died in the attack (including the perpetrator) and 50 suffered injuries of whom 29 were hospitalised, some in critical condition, including a woman who fell into the River Thames (now deceased).
The authorities have said that amongst the injured were people from the United Kingdom, France, Romania, South Korea, Greece, Germany, Poland, China, Ireland, Italy and the United States.
UK foreign minister, Boris Johnson, has said that “there are victims from 11 countries, which shows that this attack in London is an attack against the world”.
The terrorist group Islamic State (ISIS) released a statement 24 hours after the attack through the Amaq agency, where they claimed responsibility and described the attacker as one of their “soldiers”.
However, the UK security service rejected this version of facts and denied the existence of any solid facts to confirm the alleged link between the perpetrator and the extremist group, although they did acknowledge that he was inspired to commit the crime by the rhetoric and propaganda of ISIS.
The attack had a strong impact on the international community and prompted a United Nations condemnation, as well as from other international organisations and the governments of Russia, France, Turkey, Spain, United States, Uruguay, Bolivia, Singapore and South Africa amongst other countries.
The British Prime Minister, Theresa May, visited the injured in hospital in London and spoke with them and their friends and families as well as with the medical personnel looking after them.
Meanwhile, Queen Elizabeth II extended her condolences to the families of those who have died and expressed her thanks to the Police for their work defending the people.
“My thoughts, my prayers and my deepest solidarity are with those who have been affected by this horrible act of violence”, said the Monarch after the tragic events.
The police responded immediately to the act of aggression and within a few days of the unfortunate event they had interrogated 3,500 witnesses, including those who were on Westminster Bridge and 2,500 who were in the immediate vicinity of parliament.
In addition, they quickly proceeded to arrest the alleged accomplices of Masood/Russell, which led them to execute raids in areas of Birmingham where he lived and certain regions of the British capital.
These operations led to the seizure of 2,700 items of dubious origin and which were probably linked to the planning and execution of the incident, although the perpetrator had previously been on the threat radar of the United Kingdom security services, MI5.
Among the items seized, there were hard disks with information that could be relevant to the case as well as three cars which were also confiscated by the authorities.
Finally, within the first moments after the attack, the London police arrested eight people, three women and five men allegedly related to Masood.
“As I speak, millions of people will be getting on trains and planes to travel to London. We are not afraid, we will never falter in the face of terrorism”, May said while addressing parliament after this sad episode. (PL)
Photos: Pixabay – (Translated by Peter Savin – Email: firstname.lastname@example.org)