Po­lice say car crash in Lon­don a traf­fic ac­ci­dent not ter­ror­ism

Richmond Times-Dispatch Weekend - - NATION & WORLD -

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 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.

The crash took place on a day when the cen­tral Lon­don mu­seum dis­trict was teem­ing with pedes­tri­ans. Pho­to­graphs showed a dented sil­ver car and a man be­ing pinned to the ground out­side the mu­seum. A po­lice foren­sics of­fi­cer in blue cov­er­alls took pic­tures of the crash site.

Lon­don Mayor Sadiq Khan tweeted that he was in close con­tact with As­sis­tant Met­ro­pol­i­tan Po­lice Com­mis­sioner Mark Row­ley, who plays a lead role in the po­lice’s coun­tert­er­ror­ism op­er­a­tion.

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Am­bu­lance per­son­nel pushed awoman on a stretcher at the scene of a car crash in cen­tral Lon­don on Satur­day.

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