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On Thursday afternoon, less than 300 feet from the British Parliament, the British Metropolitan Police arrested a 27-year-old man on suspicion of planning a terror attack.
The arrest followed a stop-and-search; counter-terror police and intelligence services had been conducting an investigation of the man prior to the arrest.
The suspect appeared to have one hand wrapped up in a bandage. Three knives and a backpack were retrieved.
The main gates to Parliament were shut and traffic was restricted outside the road leading to Downing Street, where Prime Minister Theresa May lives.
May was not in Downing Street, campaigning in Derbyshire ahead of the General Election. When she was contacted, she said was “aware” of what had happened in Whitehall and praised the bravery of the police, intelligence and security services, saying, “It shows that our police, and our intelligence, and our security services are on the alert as they always are, looking to keep us safe and secure. We owe a huge debt of gratitude to these people, many of whom are unseen, unheard, yet the job they do day in, day out to keep us secure is a really important one and we should thank them for it.”
The Metropolitan Police released a statement:
A man has been arrested in Whitehall this afternoon, at approximately 2.22pm, following a stop and search as part of an ongoing operation. The 27-year-old man was arrested in Parliament Street, junction with Parliament Square, by armed officers from the Met’s Specialist Firearms Command. He was arrested on suspicion of possession of an offensive weapon and on suspicion of the commission, preparation and instigation of acts of terrorism. Knives have been recovered from him. He is being detained under the Terrorism Act and is in custody in a south London police station. Detectives from the Counter Terrorism Command are continuing their investigation, and as a result of this arrest there is no immediate known threat.
Since terrorist Khalid Masood’s attack on March 22, killing five people including Pc Keith Palmer, Westminster has been on a state of heightened alert.