tv At This Hour With Kate Bolduan CNN March 22, 2017 8:00am-9:01am PDT
we're having to rely here on information from official sources. i've recently been in briefings, you know, in terms of serious incidents happening in london, and they want us to rely on the sources coming to us from the police. and all they're telling us at the moment is there's been some sort of firearms incident. having said that, very reliable sources in the political reporting press based just yards from the scene you're looking at now are saying there is a serious incident unfolding. the area has been completely cleared. from what you can see and what i can see, wolf, the area is in lockdown. this is a very serious incident just by looking at the reaction there. >> it's pretty extraordinary in london to have an incident like this, although there have been warnings, we have no idea what the cause of this is, there have been warnings, max, in recent days of potential terror plots, is that right? >> reporter: well, there's ongoing concern about terror plots, of course. the most recent attachment of that has been this electronics ban on flights into the uk from certain areas of the world in
the middle east in particular, north africa. i know the u.s. has done the same sort of thing as well. there's been some sort of intelligence, we don't know whether it's u.s. intelligence or whether it's british intelligence, which suggest s some sort of threat. there has been a heightened alert in the uk anyway. had it comes to this, my most recent briefing with antiterror groups in london is their eyes are on targets in the united kingdom, buckingham palace, parliament is seen as a target. any sort of incident happening there will be treated seriously indeed. we can't talk about what level of concern here at the moment, apart from they locked down the area. it could be a lone incident of some sort. because they're so sensitive right now, a car crashing into the railings around parliament, that would cause a big reaction. i can tell you that i'm hearing some quite serious reports of
scenes coming to me from the political reporters down there. >> how unusual is it, a full lockdown of parliament and the area around london? to me it sounds extraordinary. >> reporter: it is unusual. but in this heightened sense of alert, this is how they will react. when i say it hasn't officially been heightened, but i know they are looking at sort of potential targets around london more closely than they have been in years gone by. any sort of incidents would have this sort of reaction. we haven't had any sort of dents on whatever level recently. it's been cleared and the police are doing what they can. if they weren't that concerned, they would have cleared it by now, because we're heading into rush hour, another reason we're concerned. >> we're looking at a picture, max, of a car that looks like it crashed into the fence around parliament right there. i don't know if you have any more information.
was this an accident or was this deliberate? what can you tell us? >> reporter: well, if it was an accident, that suggests the area wouldn't have been locked down. but i just don't know at this point, wolf. it looks like a car has gone into the railings. what we need to know is what happened ahead of that. so what was that car doing before it went into those railings and who was affected as a result? if we tie that image with what we know from the metropolitan police, there's been a firearms incident, there are two serious incidents in a small space of london which is next to a landmark building. so this is very concerning indeed. >> we're getting word from reuters in london, max, that there are people have been injured, at least a dozen people injured near the parliament according to a reuters photographer who is on the scene. let me read from reuters. at least a dozen people have been injured on westminster bridge after large bangs were heard outside british parliament according to a reuters
photographer who was on the scene. and you're getting more information as well. but if at least a dozen people have been injured, that would represent clearly a very significant and ominous development. >> reporter: it is. a lot of what we're getting is from reuters, because of that photographer. we're also hearing from reuters that an alleged assailant was shot by uk parliament, at the uk parliament by armed police as well. that's a reuters-sourced story, obviously very reliable on their stories coming out of london. also a prominent parliamentary journalist is reporting that the prime minister has been evacuated as well, because you can assume that either she was in parliament or downing street, moved out of the area. so it's getting increasingly serious. the reaction is certainly serious. we can only wait to hear what the police know and report it. i don't think we're going to hear a huge amount, i have to say, wolf, because there's going to be information around this if it's an ongoing incident, the uk authorities are known for being very clear that they'll give as
little information as they can in these sorts of instances. if the prime minister is being moved, we're looking at something pretty serious. >> and as far as you know, the lockdown clearly is still in effect, right, max? >> reporter: well, it's just based on the live images we've gone coming in. if you look at the, they've stopped all the buses on the bridge and got everyone out of the way. all i can see is emergency services. a sense of urgency for sure, they haven't cleared it yet. now that that photo has come in, the investigation will be around was that car deliberately aimed at the railings, was it linked to the firearms incident. >> was parliament in session at the time? you say the prime minister is being evacuated. was parliament in session? >> reporter: that's an interesting thing. i don't know whether the prime minister was in parliament. it's in session, just getting going at this time of the day as well. when we say that's been eevacuated, i don't know whether
that's from parliament or from downing street. downing street is not far away from there at all. if they've brought in antiterror police, and i can't confirm they have, one of the first things they would have done is asked where the prime minister is and moved her. >> bob baer is with us, antiterrorism analyst. car, a situation like this, a cash crashes into the fence outside of parliament, shots clearly have been heard by eyewitnesses. it is out of an abundance of caution that there's a complete lockdown, that the prime minister is evacuated, or does it sound a lot more ominous? >> reporter: right now, wolf, we're going to have to wait for the details. we don't know who did the shooting. it could have been the police. it could have been the attackers. and it's standard for the prime minister to be moved. and it's standard to close down that entire area around parliament simply to make sure
that the attackers don't get away. what you do is close it down. it doesn't mean there's a larger attack. it's just that in the confusion, it's so easy to get away unless you close all the streets. and you have to remember, with parliament, it's pretty much an indefensible target. there's so many tourists around there, so many people. you could do a lot of damage very quickly with something as simple as a truck, sort of like the nice attacks. >> the uk police are investigating what they are calling this firearms incident right near the british parliament in london, bob, london's metropolitan police say they were called in reports of this incident near westminster bridge, right near parliament. it's being treated as had a they call a firearms incident. when you hear a firearms incident, clearly people have some firearms, and we assume that they've been fired.
>> reporter: yeah, it sounds like that. right now it sounds like this was an attack with guns. and wolf, remember, in britain, they're very tightly controlled. it's not just somebody who has lost their mind, a psychopath. i would say right now, and i could be wrong, it was an organized, well-organized, well-planned terrorist attack. first reports are always corrected later on, but that's the way it sounds to me. >> henry mance joins us on the phone, henry, i understand you were inside instructions and have been given instructions. tell us what you've seen and heard. >> reporter: yes, this was a fairly quiet wednesday afternoon. you had members of parliament to vote in a parliamentary vote then all of a sudden there was some kind of commotion outside, and the members of the parliament crowd had been sent back the other way, were told to get down and away from the windows, away from the glass
entrance to the building. and what i'm now told by my colleagues is that there is a person down and injured, just where the mps would have been walking. >> have you been told that you have to be in lockdown, you and your colleagues and associates inside parparliament? is that right? >> reporter: that's right. you have an area of the building where the journalists were, they're locked up there. we've been -- i'm in a newer part of the building, people from academics to students, advisers and officials have been herded into the meeting rooms to get away from the glass, some feeling people could still be at risk within the building.
>> max foster, back quickly to you, i understand you're getting more information, what are you learning? >> reporter: we're relying on reuters, they have a photographer right there on the scene. i don't want to draw too many conclusions here but i'll give you what facts are coming through from them. what we have is a report of two people on the ground on the bridge bleeding heavily. we've got an official report from the police saying there was a firearms incident. we've got a vehicle that's gone into the railings there at parliament just off the bridge. we then hear from reuters that at least a dozen armed officers have gone inside the british par parliament. now we've heard that a policeman has been stabbed in parliament. it seems as though there's been a breach. i don't want to link these incidents but it looks as though that's the pattern of events. we do know that the prime
minister was in parliament when all of this happened and she was evacuated. >> when they say she was evacuated, do they know where they evacuate her? to an undisclosed location? >> reporter: it depends on the level of threat, whether they feel they've contained it. all of her security is set up in downing street. if they feel that the perimeter of the threat is very small, just around parliament, i suspect she would have gone to downing street. i don't know what their conditions are in these. >> because other reporters, and i'm looking at some of the reports, christopher hope, a political journalist for "the daily telegraph," says he heard shots fired outside of parcel ame wa ameant. he also heard a large explosion, he said shot outside gates to parliament, gunshots outside. he calls this -- and he's there on the screen -- frightening. that's just one journalist who happened to have been at parliament on this day. we're getting more reports along those lines.
but stand by for a moment. phil black is also getting some information. what are you learning, phil? >> reporter: wolf, where i'm standing there is just across the road from britain's houses of parliament, that iconic building. it is now currently surrounded under absolute lockdown in what is a very large and new police operation. police around here are still in the process of driving people back from the scene. they've established lines. there are vehicles, police motorcycles, heavily armed police officers. all of them have locked down this area. if you're familiar with it, we're talking about houses of parliament, the area around parliament square. police are moving people back down, a road known as whitehall, the historic road that runs through this city's government area. we're just a short distance from downing street, the prime minister's residence. this is the location where according to police, only a short time ago, they responded to what they are subscribing as
a shooting incident. that's all we know at this stage, according to many and varied witness accounts, pointing to potentially gunfire, explosions, right in this area, very close to britain's houses of parliament. no one officially has talked about who was responsible for this yet or what the potential consequences of it were. the british media are reporting that at least a number of people have been injured as a result of what has happened here today. i can tell you, on a day-to-day basis, at this time of day, this is an incredibly crowded area. two things to consider. first of all, houses of parliament is where prime minister's questions take place, every parliament member in the country was in that building today. on top of that, it's an incredibly busy site for the many tourists that come here on a daily basis. the crowds around the houses of parliament are always very large, so is the security. you see it here every single
day. despite that it appears some sort of shooting incident has taken place. and as i speak, the police are directing us back from this immediate scene where this event has taken place today, wolf. >> it's still an ongoing situation there, there has by no means been an all clear. it's a serious ongoing situation based on what you're seeing on the scene now, right? >> reporter: so the police said they were called to respond to whatever happened here, only 20 minutes after the hour, which wasn't that long ago. the police have only just started to arrive in the numbers we're describing here, a very large police presence. many vehicles, motorcycles, and emergency services, a helicopter of some kind has landed in parliament square, this is right in front of parliament itself. and really as i'm talking right now, the police are still securing the area. they're still driving people, tourists, workers, journalists coming down here. we're only now being pushed back
from the very edges of parliament square itself, which is very close to whe. >> i want you to stand by, max. we have sir gerald horvath. sir gerald, you were inside parliament. tell us what you've seen and heard, what is going on right now. >> well, the situation, the house of commons, was that in the business of voting, so most members of the parliament were here, it was suspended, and we are locked in as we get reports from reuters that it's very, very serious indeed. it's confusing. what we've been told is that one police officer has been stabbed. a car was coming from westminster bridge, those who
have been here know the situation coming towards houses of parliament, there were inbound pedestrians on the way. it seems the driver then, it appears she came in, got access onto the estate and stabbed the police officer, and that appears to have been himself shot. you just heard the report, i gather there's a helicopter landed in parliament square. it's all very confusing. so the members are suspended pending the securing of the estate so we can carry on with our business. it shows that we face this threat of terrorism, we have to live with it. >> has anyone there at parliament, sir gerald, suggested this is an act of terrorism? >> well, it's either somebody
who is a complete nutter or a terrorist attack. obviously we don't know at this stage. we have very stringent security measures here. and it would appear that they have largely -- but we're in the middle of the incident. all i can tell you from within the building, it's locked down, is what the leader of the house has already told us and what we're picking up from external news reports from people like yourselves, cnn. >> it's a very disturbing picture we're showing. sir gerald, i would love you to stand by. max foster, the live pictures we're seeing now, aerial pictures showing the car that seems to have crashed into a fence outside of parliament and you see a lot of police surrounding that vehicle. set the scene for viewers not
familiar with this area. >> reporter: actually hearing there, a lot of people are saying what you just heard from that mp, that this vehicle came over the bridge which is to the south of the image you're looking at now. our main parliamentary building is on the left. that's the fence going into the parliamentary building. the suggestion there, a lot of the reports, we have to have this confirmed by the police, but a lot of eyewitnesses suggest that car came over the bridge, mowed down some people, which is why we've seen bodies on the bridge, we're trying not to show them in detail for obvious reasons, and hit the barrier. from that scene, it looks like it was all over there and then. but then we learned armed police have gone into the building. and mps involved in session in the chamber have been locked in, effectively. parliament has been suspended. the entire area around parliament is in lockdown and there's something going on around that car. that could simply be of course
police investigating but it looks like it's ambulances around there, there looks to be some bodies around that. we know that firearms were involved as well at some point on the bridge episode. parliament on lockdown, mps locked inside, and reports of some sort of stabbing or attack inside against a policeman. >> one of those mps in lockdown is kevin brennan. kevin, i know that you're there. give us your sense of what you've been told about this lockdown, this incident. >> well, wolf, we were just about to take a vote. we call it a division in the house of commons, when this incident occurred, which meant a lot of members of parliament were on their way to the chamber in their division lobbies to vote. as we arrived we were told to remain in the area of the chamber because of this incident. subsequently the sitting has
been suspended and the leader of the house has told us about this incident where a police officer apparently was stabbed by an attacker. he's been shot by the security people at the house of commons. and we hear that there's been other incidents involving a car outside the gates. >> when you hear "other incident," what does that mean, that the individual who was shot by police, the individual who stabbed a police officer, there is a separate incident related or unrelated, involving the car that we've been seeing? >> i can't confirm that, blitz. in the house all that was confirmed to us was that somebody managed to get through the gates in the house of commons, the main entrance into the parliament here in westminster and that that individual attacked a police officer and was subsequently shot by the officers. there were reports of a loud bang outside. perhaps that's related to the
incident with the car which some of us obviously through social media have seen pictures of. but currently, along with my colleagues, we're all locked down in the house of commons, in the chamber itself, and the lobbies around it whilst the incident is resolved. >> so you're there on lockdown right now. we are told also, kevin brennan, member of parliament, that the british prime minister theresa may is safe, and she has been evacuated. do you know where she's been moved to? >> i don't have any information on that, wolf. she had weekly prime minister's questions, which happens every e wednesday in the uk in the house of commons. i know that's watched by a lot of people in the united states on c-span. she may be in the house of commons, she has an office here, or she may have left, i can't confirm that either way. >> we're showing our viewers
video of the westminster bridge. the area is in lockdown. people have been injured on that bridge. no traffic moving at all, clearly a serious situation. we're also told that president trump has now been briefed on the situation by his national security advisers. but we're showing our viewers some pictures from the bridge. kevin brennan is still with us, member of parliament. how unusual is this in london? >> well, of course we did have a major terrorist incident back in 2005, wolf, when there was attacks on public transport, on the tube in particular in london, and of course many, many years previously, people in london got used to terrorist attacks during the era of the troubles in northern ireland with the i.r.a. but police forces have been successful in recent years in
thwarting incidents. we don't know what the motive here is of the attacker. obviously the security forces, as in every capital these days, are prepared for this kind of occurrence. wolf, can i also say, not knowing fully the extent of the injuries, i know that members of the house of commons want to send their thoughts and prayers to those who have been affected and injured in this dent, and to get that message out more widely. >> and it looks like there are some serious injuries on that bridge. you can see people walking and you can see people being removed. it looks like injured being removed right now, even as we speak. it's a very, very tenuous situation. max foster, if you're still there, how close are you to the parliament right now? i know that police are trying to keep you and other journalists a bit away. >> reporter: yeah, phil black has gone down there, we're just a couple of miles away here. there's no way of getting close
to these situations, from past experience, they're keeping the area completely clear. look at the images coming in to us, there are clearly people injured. look how far those members of the public or whoever they are on the bridge, quite a way away from that car that's crashed into the fence there, and there are still people clearly lying on the ground there because the ambulances are surrounding them. then there's been some sort of breach into parliament. a policeman has been attacked and sources say that whoever attacked the policeman have been attacked themselves. there are gunshots the police responded to but we're also hearing about other gunshots which i'm assuming may have come from the police, we can't assume they're from any sort of assailant. for anyone to have got from the bridge over the fence into parliament and to have closed down parliament and created a security lockdown in the area is
extraordinary. actually a major breach. >> sounds like a very, very extraordinary -- nic robertson is now on the scene for us as well. nic, tell our viewers first of all where you are, what you've heard, what you've seen. >> reporter: wolf, i'm just looking straight down the road towards the bridge. it sounds as if the police are coming further back at this time. we're at a big green in front of the houses of parliament. on the green there's an emergency services recovery helicopter that seems to be brought in for the injured. there's a helicopter circling overhead. police are moving people back from where we are right now. from where we can see, the swarm of police vehicles on the edge of westminster. wolf, we're going to move, the police are asking us to move. we're just moving.
so wolf, the situation here is, it seems the perimeter that the police have put in place around the parcel aments building, the perimeter is being expanded and pushed further back at the moment. it is as we would expect. there has been quite a crowd gathering here to witness what's taking place. >> we're going to get back to nic, we'll try to reestablish that connection. nic robertson is there. clearly they're expanding that perimeter, the parliament, the entire area now very much on lockdown. this is a serious situation, extraordinary situation in london unfolding. clarissa ward, you're here with us in washington right now. but you know this area well, you've spent a lot of time there. as we just heard from that member of parliament, kevin
brennan, he doesn't remember anything like this going back to 2005 when those horrendous terrorist incidents occurred in london. >> reporter: that's right, i went to a school called west minister school, i spent an enormous amount of time in this area. as you heard from max foster, this is a crowded, bustling area, filled with lawmakers attending houses of parliament, filled with tourists visiting the many beautiful sites that london has to offer. and it is literally the seat of power of the united kingdom. this is the beating heart of britain's democracy. it is hard not to wonder at the symbolism of an attack like this. now, there have been multiple attacks in the united kingdom, most memorably in 2005, as you cited, the attacks on london's underground system.
it appears one of the underground stations, westminster, which is very near to the location where this attack took place, appears to be closed, although there's no indication that there's anything actually going on. but just that that perimeter does continue to expand as they want to make sure that everything is secure in that area. then famously, of course, some years ago there was another attack on an off-duty soldier, lee rigby, in a different part of london, towards the southeast, another horrific attack. and then last year, i should add, there was an attack on a british very beloved british parliamentarian, jo cox, not by an islamic terrorist group, that was by a right wing radical fanatic. at this stage we have no idea who has perpetrated this attack, what might be the motivation behind it. i can tell you, regardless of who is responsible or what drove
this attack, this certainly is putting a real fear into the hearts of british people, because although everyone in the united kingdom understands that there is an elevated threat, that we do live in dangerous times, as i said before, this is the center of london. this is the seat of power. this is a bustling area. you can see all of those red double decker buses now lined up, stuck as they lock down that entire area. anyone who has been to london, who has spent time in london, has been to this area. and presumably most of these people wouldn't feel unsafe in this area, because there is a heavy police presence around. one simply, wolf, does not expect this sort of thing to happen in broad daylight, for a car to be able to go over westminster bridge like that, mowing into multiple people, and
then another incident, possibly the same, possibly separate, we're still trying to put together the many pieces of this puzzle, it really does raise enormous concern, not just for britons, not just for people who spend time in that area, but for people around the world who love london and who are watching this scene unfold, wolf. >> the center of british power, the parliament, the entire area now in lockdown. i want to get back to you in a moment, clarissa. nic robertson, we've reestablished your location, we saw you earlier, local police, they've moved you and other journalists further away. they've expanded that area of the lockdown. tell us where you are right now and what you're hearing. >> reporter: wolf, the mr. i say have moved us back i would say about 50 to 100 yards back from the position we were in. at the moment they're giving no reason for pushing us back this additional distance. certainly large crowds were beginning to gather, this of course a time in london when
many people are beginning to head home from work. it's not clear if the police perceive an increased threat or danger to the crowds from what they were discovering. but what we can see from down there, and we're still looking down towards westminster bridge where you've had another camera looking towards the activity there, the police vehicles there, the ambulances that are there. there's still a helicopter circling overhead. police at the moment, as much as they wanted to get the crowds back, they don't seem keyed as if there is an immediate threat, they seem like they merely wanted to locate everyone further away from the scene. on the green in front of the parliament, there was an emergency services helicopter which when you see those on the ground here as in anywhere in the world, wolf, you know that there are serious casualties involved. what's perhaps very telling here is that helicopter remains on the ground.
it hasn't whisked anyone away from the scene yet. of course there are a lot of ambulances here, this is central london. there are hospitals in the relatively near vicinity, just across the bridge. but at the moment, this is very much a developing situation. the police -- and i hear more signs coming this way -- the police at the moment maintaining this bigger perimeter as they continue to investigate. and from what we understand, still trying to deal with the impact of the situation, to deal with the casualties, wolf. >> stand by. max foster, you're getting new information about british prime minister theresa may. she was evacuated. >> reporter: yes, obviously the building is in lockdown so we're speaking to colleagues who were inside the building. one of them works for our affiliate itv. we're hearing from itv that prime minister theresa may was seen being ushered into a silver car as gunfire was heard. this is painting a picture of
gunfire coming very close to the british prime minister in parliament, extraordinary and frightening. >> the notion that someone could scale, could get through those fences and walls and get into parliament, that's pretty frightening, that's pretty extraordinary. security around there is incredibly tight. >> reporter: it is, just for mps, let alone for the prime minister. i'm agog that there could be that going on near the prime minister. the idea that our prime minister could have been possibly caught up in gunfire in arguably one of the most secure places for public figures in the united kingdom is unheard of, extraordinary, and absolutely frightening. >> but she's okay by all accounts, max, theresa may, the prime minister, is okay. she's obviously been removed, in lockdown herself, but she's safe and fine, right? >> reporter: well, this is
expressed as the level of concern here right now. they won't confirm anything. i think obviously if she wasn't well and she couldn't serve her job, then we would have to know about it, the public needs to know who is running the country, someone else would have to step in. so we assume she is okay, we don't know anything more than that. there's a vacuum of information right now which really does show how seriously the british authorities are taking this. >> i think we have on the phone the former polish foreign minister roderick sikorsky, who was an eyewitness as well. minister, are you there? >> yes, i am. >> tell us what you were doing, minister, we saw some of the video that you were shooting. >> i was in a taxi driving from westminster square to the south bank in london. and i heard rather than saw what i took to be a collision, like a
car hitting a sheet of metal. and when i looked, i saw people down on the streets, on the tarmac, first person, second person, people rushing to help them. i saw in all five people down, mowed down by a car, including one person bleeding heavily from the head, and another person lying unconscious. >> and what was your reaction, minister? >> it happened so quickly that you don't even have time to get frightened. i had been in war situations before, which is why i had my journalistic reaction and started recording. our taxi driver immediately called the emergency services and we started hearing sirens
within literally a couple of minutes. >> did you see actual individuals on the ground who had been injured? >> yes, i saw five people, five people i definitely saw. >> and ambulances had already arrived? because we know there are a lot of ambulances on the scene right now. >> well, they hadn't by then because i saw them seconds after impact. but there's also a hospital right there by westminster bridge. so from that point of view, help should be on the way very quickly. but this is clearly a very serious incident. >> and your conclusion was these individuals, these five people you saw lying on the ground on that bridge had been hit by this vehicle, is that right? >> i didn't see it, but it's what i assume. there were two people on the tarmac, and at least two people sort of by the side, by the
balustrade of the bridge itself. so it looked like the car was -- i'm now assuming, i'm now speculating, as if the car was swerving between the pavement and the road to hit people. >> i want to just thank you, raudek sikorsky, the polish foreign minister, who was on the scene and saw individuals lying on that bridge, presumably the result of that vehicle driving along the bridge and hitting people as it was moving closer towards the parliament. we're told president of the united states, president trump, has been briefed by his national security adviser, general h.r. mcmaster. he also spoke out about this just a few moments ago. we're about to get the videotape of president trump on what he has been told. i want to quickly go to nic robertson. you're getting more information. nic, what else are you learning? you're there.
>> reporter: yeah, wolf, hearing the description of what happened and the prime minister being whisked away from the scene -- we're being moved back a little bit at the moment, wolf -- what i was able to see as we're walking fast, we're walking fast, what we were able to see at the back of downing street was downing street, of course where the prime minister lives when she's in london, additional security where she lives, the policemen, armed police members outside there, that is not normal. clearly additional security placed around the prime minister's residence at this time, wolf. >> police are now moving you again, nic, is that right? >> reporter: wolf, we're being moved back. it is a fluid situation. there is a new police line being established even further back here. so we are just coming up to that line right now.
again, not clear, wolf, why we're being moved back, again. back to you, wolf. >> i want to go to the videotape, this is president trump, he has been briefed by lieutenant general mcmaster, his national security adviser. >> news having to do with london that just happened. thank you very much. we appreciate you being here. it's a great honor. >> that's it, that's what he said, something has happened in london. he has been briefed, but information still very, very sketchy as we're watching this unfold. clarissa ward is with me, steve hall, our national security contributor is with me as well, former with the cia. clarissa, you know this area, you studied, he went to school in this area. so you see these images and it's pretty extraordinary. >> it is extraordinary. we all understand that we live
in dangerous times and we understand that threats are elevated. but this is one of the most bustling areas of london. it's where westminster abbey is, where i went to school. it's full of students, tourists, lawmakers and politicians. this is the seat of power in the united kingdom. this is an incredibly busy, thriving, important place in london. and to see it under lockdown like that is certainly very striking. we're hearing from the metropolitan police that they are expanding the area, that they're asking people now to avoid not just the immediate area around the houses of parliament but also whitehull, westminster bridge, the embankment. i know those names don't necessarily mean a lot to our viewers, but this is a large area police are asking people to push back from. they are saying, we are treating
this as a terrorist incident until we know otherwise. i think you're really hearing from police that they want people to understand that they need to be on the highest possible state of alert and the highest level of vigilance right now until the situation is fully contained. and from what we are seeing on the ground right now, it is still fluid. it's difficult to know exactly what's going on. so unsurprising that police are taking those kinds of draconian precautions. but again, just to give you a sense of how many people would be walking along that bridge, that bridge is packed when you try to cross it, and lots and lots of tourists, wolf. this is a very popular area with people who are visiting great britain. >> we've seen reports that you just heard from the polish foreign minister sikorsky of victims lying on the bridge. we're getting a very brief statement, a warning from the u.s. embassy in london. "we are aware of a reported
incident near westminster in london, please avoid the area and monitor the news for updates." the uk political reporter for politico, charlie, what are you hearing? >> reporter: hi there. parliament is on lockdown, inside the chamber. david livingston, the leader of the house of commons, made a brief statement to mps just now in which he confirmed that a police officer has been stabbed on the parliamentary estate and that the assailant was shot by police. we actually saw both of those incidents from our office windows. we're shaken up right now, as you can imagine. our thoughts are with the police officer who has been stabbed and anyone else who was hurt in this horrible incident. >> any indication, charlie, of a motive, why this occurred?
>> reporter: no. we're sitting up here seeing it from a distance. i couldn't possibly say what lies behind this. it's being treated as a terror incident by police, i don't know about that, they're keeping the area on lockdown, we have to keep all possibilities in mind. >> you're still inside the parliament, that area there, and you're on lockdown together with your other journalistic colleagues? >> reporter: that's right, the entire parliamentary press gallery is here on lockdown. as far as i know, the mps are still on lockdown. the mps are in the chamber in lockdown there. inside the central lobby, the main central hall in parliament. as your commentator was saying, this is the center of politics and power in the united kingdom, it's an incredibly busy area.
ministers, mps, journalists, officials around the estate. >> charlie cooper of politico, hold on for one moment. we're getting live eyewitnesses who are discussing what they saw. let's listen. >> because we were only crawling along the bridge. there was bodies literally. >> must have been ten bodies. >> at least. >> lying in different places along the bridge. >> it must have been terrifying. >> it was horrendous, absolutely horrendous. >> we had to stay on the bus and they told the driver to get off the bridge. and then the emergency services were there. >> they came as well at the same time. >> thank goodness you were there together. >> young ladies from mexico on the bus as well. and they were traumatized, absolutely traumatized. only young girls. it was horrendous.
>> you heard those women say they saw bodies lying all around. on the phone right now is da dal babou, former chief superintendent of the metropolitan police in london, he was in charge of security for that area. what can you tell us based on what you're hearing? >> good afternoon. i think it's very, very early at this stage to know exactly what's happened. i think the assumption is, given where the attacks happened, that this is a terrorist incident. at the moment i think the information is very unclear. i think what we've been cold is an officer has been stabbed, that officers have shot the individual. i think it's an incredibly challenging area to police and keep safe, because the house of commons and house of lords have multiple entry and exit points for lords and members of
parliament. in addition to that, it's adjacent to the public highway. you literally walk along parliament square, and long milbank, and you're right next to the building. there's a fence, but you will have multiple points where individuals can enter and leave the building, both from the underground, the subway, which is very close to westminster, which i understand is closed at the moment. in addition to that, it's a major tourist spot because you've got big ben. people will come along to see big ben and houses of commons and it's an incredibly challenging place for police to keep safe. at this stage we have to wait to see what information we get from police. there will be a lot of speculation. i just heard about the comments about bodies lying. i don't know what the veracity of that information is. at the moment i'm probably like many of us, just a little bit unclear around exactly what's happened other than what appears to have been confirmed, that
there was a stabbing of an officer, shots were fired, a helicopter is being rushed in. the bbc reported that prime minister theresa may was whisked away from the scene. >> metropolitan police, you'll be interested to know, superintendent, they're asking all eyewitnesses to share photos, video, whatever they have, they can use that information, and presumably people will be doing precisely that. in your experience, for someone to get inside with a knife and stab a police officer, and then that individual was shot by police, how often does something like that happen in london? >> london is an incredibly safe place. crime has plummeted. it will be a shock to londoners to see that this has happened. london is one of the safest major cities in the world.
and there are cctv cameras in every conceivable high profile place. you would have security guards. so i think what's very, very unclear at the moment is, was this person, did he enter, because you have to go through security, you have to empty your pockets. it's like going into an airport security. and you have armed guards present, armed officers present. what's very, very unclear is, is this somebody who produced a knife at that point when they were trying to enter the police building -- sorry, the parliament building, or was it somebody who had managed to secrete a knife into the building, which would be more worrying. we don't know the answers to that. i think the fact that the individual was shot and restrained gives you an indication that the security system, which has been hugely increased recently, was working and had the right individuals
there. when i worked there, i used to run a security team at the house of commons, we were unarmed. but over the years, as the threat of terrorism has increased, we have now had armed officers there. the officers, unarmed officers would be working >> i think what's very, very unclear at this point is exactly where the incident happened. was there one individual? were there other individuals? there's a scene that happened outside, i think, which one of the eyewitnesss talks about people lying down. i don't know if that's connected or unconnected. it seems to be in the vicinity of the house of commons. christian amanpour is in london right now. set the scene for our viewers around the world. >> well, first and foremost, it's about a mile or so away from where we are now.
you can see that these streets are still okay. they've only heavily locked down the area around parliament where this incident took place. parliament and also westminster bridge. as you heard from the former superintendent, britain is very, very good at dealing with these issues. the person was immediately tackle and disabled. they are now treating those people on westminster bridge, as you can probably see from the overhead video, who were injured when a car apparently rammed into them. the details are very, very sketchy, except for officially the police are telling us that they are treating this incident as a terrorist attack until they know otherwise.
this time last year at the airport and elsewhere. it is also right after on saturday we saw an incident in the paris airport orly where an individual tried to attack a police guard who was there, an armed police. this individual was trying to go for the gun, and this individual was gunned down by that policeman's colleagues. it is also right after we've had both american security and intelligence and also british security and intelligence putting out the warnings about ipads and tablets from various countries and various airlines. all of that leads you to believe none of them are connected, but the intelligence people have been telling us for a long, long time that britain was bound to have some kind of an incident. we saw what happened in paris over the last year where he we saw what happened in germany near christmas. we saw what happened in brussels last year, and britain has always said because they've had
nothing, luckily, since 7-7 in 2005, which is a major terrorist attack, it's always said we have been working hard to thwart all sorts of dangers. there was bound to be something. we simply do not know whether this is something or whether it's a coordinated attack. all we know is what has happened. the sketchy details, and what the police are saying that they are treating it as a terrorist attack until they know otherwise. almost nothing can walk or talk without being caught on cc television, cctv cameras. they have a huge amount of surveillance around these bases. i have also yol been in parliament many times. the last time was just a couple of months ago. it's impossible to get through without, as a superintendent was telling you, going through and past armed guards, going through heavy security, x-rays, and body scanners and all of that.
this is the lay of the land at the moment. >> and as far as you know, christiane, the lockdown in that entire parliament area, including the big ben area, number 10 downing street, all that area still on lockdown, right? >> it is on lockdown. as we've been saying, and it's everybody around the world knows,ing what is britain, what is london known for? why do people come to london for that iconic parliament building and big ben. as you can imagine, there were probably a lot of tourists. it's been showery, a little rain why i in spring. it's been quite a nice day, and there are a lot of tourists in this city. >> she was dealing with various bits of legislation, and she was apparently bundled out, and we're not quite sure where she has gone, but we understand that she is safe. this is, again, all the party
leaders, all the big guns come to parliament on a wednesday for prime minister's questions. >> that may have been one of the reasons this attacker or attackers, we don't know be, they have selected this particular day. we're getting very, very preliminary information. just want to cautious our viewers on that. christiane, i'm going to get back to you in a moment. i know you are working your sores. phil black, you are also on the scene for us. what's the latest you're hearing? >> from where we're standing it's clear that the police have largely completed their desperate scramble to clear the immediate area around parliament. we're going to give you a sense whaf we can see from where we're standing. this is the main road that runs through the government district of london. it's only an hour or so there
was a heavy, rapid police response to this location, to this immediate area. when we first got here, we could see the armed police, the motorcycles, the air ambulance that had landed directly on parliament square itself, and then since then police have gradually been pushing back, expanding their area of control. it's not an easy job because, as others have been talking about, this is an incredibly busy area. not just with the people who work in the various arms of government and parliament. the prime minister's residence, downing street, it's just really just a very short distance from where i'm standing now, but, of course, the tourists as well. they come here in huge numbers every day of the week. what you do see here every day of the week, of course, is a very strong security presence as well. now, british police are known for not carrying firearms, or most of them don't, but around the parliamentary buildings themselves, you always see heavily armed police walking
patrols. there are large obstacles it that are designed to prevent buildings from getting in to that very key oorks t iconic parliamentary building as well. there are just so many people. these are the conditions, the environment, if you like, that whatever took place here today, in fact, did take place. police from the clear agitation in their voice as they've been driving people from the area, it's still very much trying to get a handle on what happened here, what the possible motivation was, and, of course, to insure that the threat for what possible threat there was has indeed passed. >> as far as you know, phil black, the all clear has not been given. this lockdown remains in effect. is that right? >> yeah, that's right. and that's certainly what we are seeing here today. we are seeing, as i say, this incredible police presence. police tape right where i am. we've been steadily pushed back. in addition, what we have been seeing, of course, police
vehicles going through. ambulances as well. moving both in and out of this lockdown area. journalists are all saying they're on lockdown as well. there is no sign, clearly, that this police operation is due to end any time soon. this is an incredibly significant event in this very heavily secured part of the british capital. >> and we know, phil, and i want to just be precise, this according to london metropolitan police, that one police officer was stabbed by an individual who was then shot by the police. i assume that the stabberer, the attacker, was shot and killed, but do we have that confirmed? >> we don't have that confirmed as yet. no, wolf. we haven't been told any fatalities as a result of what has happened here. clearly, as you say, at least one casualty, potential
attacker. beyond that, there are reports of other injured people lying on the streets on westminster bridge and so forth. this is through british media. we don't have that confirmed yet either. what we don't accurately have is a sense of the scale of what happened here. there is no doubt that this is an incredibly dramatic end and very unusual event to take place so close to the houses much parliament. so close to, as we've been discussing, the seat of british power, but it could be much larger than what we've even begun to get a sense of yet. according to witness statements that have been broadcast and reported, as i say, through british media. not confirmed through official channels yet. there is no doubting the scale of the police response that we have seen here today. as i say, there is no set that this is about to wrap up any time soon. >> clarissa ward is with me.
steve hall is with me as well. clarissa, you know this area well. for this response to be as huge as it clearly is, there must have been some significant numbers of -- i have to assume significant casualties. >> one would assume. i mean, it's still very early stages yet. what we know from the eyewitness accounts that we heard from those women, also from the man who was speaking earlier on cnn, there were clearly at least five bodies apparently. we don't know if those people were actually killed, whether they were just seriously injured, but i think what this really gives you a sense of, potentially we're looking at one assailant that we know of so far. obviously that could change. how incredible is it that potentially one man with one vehicle can do this kind of damage. i'm sure steve would have more thoughts on this perhaps, but can do this amount of damage, create this amount of chaos, put an entire city on lockdown.
>> we don't know, steve, if the individual who stabbed the police officer and then himself was shot was also the individual who drove that vehicle across the bridge and ran into that fence. hold on for one moment just for a second. >> hello, i'm wolf blitzer in washington. wherever you are watching from around the world, we want to thank you so much for joining us for this cnn breaking news special coverage. breaking news coming into cnn, the british parliament is in lockdown in what local police are calling a terrorist incident until they know otherwise. for our viewers that are just tuning in, here's what we know right now. witnesses described hearing gunfire near westminster bridge in london. metropolitan police tweeted. they responded to the incident around 10:40 a.m. that would be eastern time here in the united states. a lawmaker tells