The Official London Attack Death Toll Was Lowered To Four Including Suspected Attacker
The evening after a truck rammed into pedestrians on the Westminster Bridge the death toll in the London attack was raised to five before being lowered again to four Thursday morning. Scotland Yard had told media that five were killed, but ultimately it was just two civilians, a police officer, and the suspected assailant, who drove through pedestrians and then stabbed the officer. The Metropolitan Police's counterterrorism chief, Mark Rowley, confirmed the revised death toll to the Associated Press.
The identity of the suspected attacker has not been released, but on Thursday, Prime Minister Theresa May confirmed that the suspect was born in Britain and had been previously investigated for ties to extremist groups. He was not seen as a key figure, though. That investigation was not connected to this current attack and there was no intelligence gathered of this plot. She spoke in Parliament, which was reconvened less than a day later, just yards from the bridge where the attack occurred. May struck a defiant tone:
Yesterday an act of terrorism tried to silence our democracy. But today we meet as normal, as generations have done before us and as future generations will continue to do, to deliver a simple message: We are not afraid and our resolve will never waver in the face of terrorism.
Police acknowledged that their investigation had gone through the night and was focused on figuring out the suspect's "motivation, preparation, and associates," CNN reported. "It is still our belief — which continues to be borne out by our investigation — that this attacker acted alone yesterday and was inspired by international terrorism," Mark Rowley the head of the U.K.'s anti-terrorism force told the news channel.
ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack Thursday, although there's no proof that the terrorist group had any direct connections to the attacker or had helped in the planning. According to an expert for CNN, the language the group used left open the possibility that the suspect was inspired by ISIS but was not in contact for the planning. An ISIS-associated news group released the claim.
"Security source to Amaq agency: The perpetrator of the attack yesterday in front of the British Parliament in London is a soldier of the Islamic State and carried out the operation in response to appeals targeting nationals of coalition countries," the Amaq news agency posted to Twitter. No other evidence of a direct connect has thus far been provided to the media.
Surely more about the attacker's background and circle of acquaintances will come out in the coming days. For now, though, the Brits are focused on returning to normalcy in an attempt to show that terrorism will not prevail.