London attack: French students injured on bridge

Armed police react following a suspected terror attack outside parliament in London, Britain, 22 March 2017Image copyright

Image caption

Police and ambulances descended on the bridge

Three French schoolchildren were among those injured when a vehicle hit people on London’s Westminster Bridge in a suspected terror attack, the French government has confirmed.

The foreign ministry said they had been on a school trip to London.

A newspaper in France’s Brittany region, Le Telegramme, identified them as teenage pupils from a private high school in Concarneau.

At least two of the pupils are in a critical condition, French media say.

Witnesses quoted by Le Telegramme said one pupil had ended up on the car bonnet.

The families of the three injured students are being flown by a military plane from the town of Lorient to be with them, the mayor of Concarneau, Andre Fidelin, said.

Parents have also gathered at the school, the Lycee Saint-Joseph.

In Paris, the lights of the Eiffel Tower are to go out from midnight (23:00 GMT) in a tribute to the victims.

Four people, including a police officer and a man believed to be the attacker, were killed and a total of 20 injured in Wednesday’s attack near the UK’s Houses of Parliament, Scotland Yard confirmed.

The group, aged 15-16, were walking across the bridge when they were hit by the car, Le Telegramme says (in French).

Those of the group not injured were extremely traumatised, the BBC’s Nick Robinson said, after meeting them just after the attack.

One of them told him he had seen the car drive into the group.

Pupils who were not hurt were put on a boat for security, after which they were able to return to the youth hostel where they had been staying since Sunday evening, Le Telegramme reports.

The hostel is trying to get them back to France as soon as possible, the paper adds.

Solidarity messages

US President Donald Trump spoke by phone with British Prime Minister Theresa May to offer his condolences and to praise the effective response of UK security services.

Mr Trump pledged the “full co-operation and support” of the US government in bringing those responsible for the attack to justice, the White House said in a statement.

Earlier, Mr Trump’s spokesman, Sean Spicer, said that the president had been “briefed”, adding that the US was monitoring the situation.

The US Department of Homeland Security said it stood “in solidarity alongside our friends in the United Kingdom in condemning the terrible attack at parliament today”.

“With our partners in federal law enforcement, we are in close contact with our British counterparts to monitor the tragic events and to support the ongoing investigation,” it added.

“At this time our domestic security posture remains unchanged. However, our frontline officers and agents continue to stay vigilant in safeguarding the American people and our homeland.”

President Francois Hollande expressed his “solidarity” with the British people, saying “terrorism concerns us all and France knows how the British people are suffering today”.

In July last year, a man drove a lorry into pedestrians in the southern French city of Nice, killing 84 people. The attack was claimed by the Islamic State (IS) group.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose country saw a lorry attack in December that killed 12 people in Berlin and was also claimed by IS, said her thoughts were “with our British friends and all of the people of London”.

“I want to say for Germany and its citizens: we stand firmly and resolutely by Great Britain’s side in the fight against all forms of terrorism,” she added.

Saying his thoughts were “with London tonight”, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker recalled it was the first anniversary of the Brussels attacks.

“Today marks one year since the people of Brussels and Belgium suffered a similar pain and felt the support of your sympathy and solidarity,” he said in a statement.

“At this emotional time, we at the European Commission can only send that sympathy back twofold.”

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London attack: French students injured on bridge