London Parliament attacker was British-born, had been investigated in past


LONDON — Police made eight arrests overnight in connection with the terror attack near the U.K. Parliament that killed three people and left 29 others injured, including an American.

Armed officers raided at least six homes in Birmingham and London, although investigators still believe the knife-wielding attacker — who Prime Minister Theresa May said was British-born — acted alone.

The terrorist plowed a 4×4 through people walking on Westminster Bridge before crashing the vehicle into the gates of the House of Commons. He scaled the fences and later fatally stabbed a police officer before being gunned down by colleagues.

“It is still our belief that this attacker acted alone,” Metropolitan Police Acting Deputy Commissioner Mark Rowley told reporters early Thursday. He added that the incident was thought to have been “inspired by international terrorism.”

Seven of the wounded were still in critical condition Thursday.

The injured included 12 Britons, three students from France and an American, May announced to lawmakers at the House of Commons.

She said the British-born attacker was known to police and had previously been investigated by the security services “in relation to concerns about violent extremism” but that he had been seen as “a peripheral figure.”

May added: “He was not part of the current intelligence picture.”

She said that “police have no reason to believe that are imminent further attacks on the public.”

According to May, the “working assumption is that the attacker was inspired by Islamist ideology.”

One of the dead was identified as Aysha Frade, 43, a mother-of-two who was hit by a bus as she fled from the attack on Westminster Bridge. She was on her way to pick up her children from school.

The small Spanish town of Betanzos, where her family lives, has declared three days of mourning, civic spokesman Jose Luis Padiente told NBC News.

One of the wounded was a tourist who plunged from the bridge into the River Thames, Romanian officials said. The woman, who was in the city to celebrate her boyfriend’s birthday, suffered serious head injuries and has badly damaged lungs, Romanian diplomat Dan Mihalache told Realitatea TV, according to The Associated Press.

Rowley said the revised death toll — which on Wednesday night had been put at four victims in addition to the suspect — came after discussions with local hospitals.

Investigators were focusing on the attacker’s “motivation, his preparation and his associates,” he said.

May and hundreds of other lawmakers returned to the scene of the attack Thursday as the House of Commons reopened for business in an act of defiance.

She addressed lawmakers after joining a minute’s silence in tribute to slain police Constable Keith Palmer, 48, who died despite efforts to revive him by doctors and a passing government minister.

Mayor Sadiq Khan invited Londoners to an evening vigil and promised “business as usual” in the capital.

“London is a city that’s been resilient in the face of terror attacks in the past,” he told NBC News. “People are returning to work today … we’re not going to allow a terrorist to divide our communities or change our way of life.”

More police officers than usual were on patrol as the Metropolitan Police aimed to provide “reassurance,” while the Union flag over Parliament was at half staff.

Westminster Bridge remained cordoned off and the surrounding streets — normally thronged with commuters — were eerily quiet except for the buzz of a police helicopter.

Defense Minister Michael Fallon described Thursday’s atrocity as a “lone-wolf attack” but said investigators were still checking “whether other people were involved.”

“Their working assumption is that this was linked to Islamic terrorism,” he told BBC Radio 4.

He added: “London is getting back to work. London has seen this before and is taking it on the chin.”