London crash traf­fic ac­ci­dent, not ter­ror

Large po­lice re­sponse to in­ci­dent in­jur­ing 11

Las Vegas Review-Journal (Sunday) - - WORLD - By Gre­gory Katz and Jill Law­less

LONDON — A car crash that in­jured 11 peo­ple out­side a ma­jor London tourist at­trac­tion Satur­day sparked fears of a ter­ror­ist at­tack but turned out to be sim­ply a traf­fic ac­ci­dent, London po­lice said.

The ac­ci­dent at 2:20 p.m. out­side the pop­u­lar Nat­u­ral His­tory Mu­seum in the heart of cen­tral London brought a gi­gan­tic po­lice re­sponse, in­clud­ing he­li­copters and haz­ardous area re­sponse teams, be­cause of ter­ror­ist con­cerns.

Po­lice said 11 peo­ple were in­jured when a car ap­par­ently mounted the pave­ment and hit pedes­tri­ans. Nine peo­ple were hos­pi­tal­ized with head and leg in­juries that were not judged to be life-chang­ing.

Pan­icky scenes en­sued after the pedes­tri­ans were struck and it took nearly four hours for po­lice to re­as­sure the anx­ious pub­lic that it was not an­other ter­ror­ist at­tack.

Bri­tons in gen­eral, and Lon­don­ers in par­tic­u­lar, have been jumpy after a string of ex­trem­ist at­tacks this year, in­clud­ing deadly at­tacks us­ing ve­hi­cles to hit pedes­tri­ans on West­min­ster Bridge and London Bridge. Bri­tain has been on a “se­vere” ter­ror­ist threat level in­di­cat­ing that the Joint Ter­ror­ism Anal­y­sis Cen­ter be­lieves an at­tack is viewed as highly likely.

Po­lice said one man at the scene, thought to be the driver, was de­tained. He has not been charged or iden­ti­fied.

Wit­nesses de­scribed a rush to leave the scene, nearby shops were evac­u­ated and the sprawl­ing mu­seum, a fa­vorite site for fam­i­lies with chil­dren, closed down early. Po­lice es­tab­lished a large se­cu­rity cor­don around the area within min­utes.

Work­ers in a cafe near the Nat­u­ral His­tory Mu­seum say they fled the scene in fear.

Mar­ilin Mueller, 20, said she thought at first it was a traf­fic ac­ci­dent but had doubts when “loads of po­lice cars” ar­rived.

“All of th­ese po­lice came march­ing down say­ing, ‘Move, move.’ They said, ‘you need to evac­u­ate,’ ” she said.

Dieon Rurora said peo­ple were run­ning down the street to get away and some fell.

“It was quite scary,” he said. One woman draped in a red blan­ket was led away by a para­medic after the crash. Oth­ers were seen leav­ing with their legs ban­daged.

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