Police make new ‘significant’ arrests over London attack

Police make new ‘significant’ arrests over London attack

Police make new ‘significant’ arrests over London attack

AP photo

British police said March 24 they had made two further “significant” arrests over the Islamist-inspired terror attack on parliament, as they appealed for information about the homegrown killer, born Adrian Russell Ajao, who left four people dead.

Nine people are now in custody over the March 22 rampage in Westminster, in which at least 50 people were injured, 31 requiring hospital treatment, counter-terrorism commander Mark Rowley said.

Police have searched 16 addresses, with five more raids still underway, mainly in London and the central city of Birmingham, where the attacker reportedly lived and near where he rented the car used in the assault.

The police officer also revealed the attacker’s birth name as Adrian Russell Ajao, after naming him March 23 as Khalid Masood, a 52-year-old who used “a number of aliases” and had a history of violent offences but no terrorist convictions.

The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) claimed the assailant behind Britain’s deadliest terror attack in 12 years was one of its “soldiers” acting on a call to target countries in the U.S.-led coalition fighting the jihadists.

British Prime Minister Theresa May has said that Masood was known to intelligence services as a “peripheral” figure some years ago but there was no warning of his intention to mount an attack.

Rowley said March 24 that police were trying to establish whether Masood acted totally alone “or if others have encouraged, supported or directed him.” 

Masood ran over dozens of pedestrians and tourists on Westminster Bridge on March 22 afternoon before crashing his car into parliament, where he managed to stab a police officer before being shot dead.

Lawmakers returned to work as normal on the morning of March 23, even as forensic officers worked at the scene, but a review of parliamentary security is now underway.

Hundreds of people gathered in nearby Trafalgar Square late March 23 for a vigil led by Mayor Sadiq Khan who vowed that “Londoners will never be cowed by terrorism.” 

The death toll rose late March 23 after life support was withdrawn from a 75-year-old man injured in the attack, whom police named as Leslie Rhodes from south London.

The other victims were 48-year-old policeman Keith Palmer and, on the bridge, a 43-year-old British woman, Aysha Frade, who was on her way to pick up her two daughters, and an American citizen in his 50s, Kurt Cochran.

Police earlier said that five men and three women aged between 21 and 58 were arrested “on suspicion of preparation of terrorist acts”. One woman was later released on bail.