Dutch pupils witness London terror attack; PM Rutte expresses condolences, support
A group of school pupils from Bergen op Zoom witnessed a terrorist attack in London on Wednesday afternoon. Five people were killed and around 40 injured when a man crashed his car into pedestrians on Westminster Bridge, crashed into the Westminster Palace gate, got out and stabbed a police officer, the Telegraaf reports.
The dead include the stabbed police officer, three pedestrians and the perpetrator himself, who was gunned down by London cops. Among the wounded are three police officers, a number of French students and two Romanian tourists, RTL reports. According to the Telegraaf, the British police identified the perpetrator and a police commissioner of the contra-terrorism service stated that he was "inspired by Islamic-related terrorism". This attack happened on the one year anniversary of the Brussels Bombings.
A group of middle school pupils from the Bergen op Zoom school Mollerlyceum was at parliament when the attack happened, rector Marcel van Loo said to Nieuwsuur. "They were really close", Van Loo said. "A supervisor and a boy saw the attacker stab [the policeman]." He could not say whether the students were in danger, but did say that none of them were injured. In consultation with the kids it was decided to cut their trip short and return to the Netherlands on Thursday. They will be offered victim support on their return.
Prime Minister Mark Rutte spoke of "horrific images" and "heartbreaking facts" in a statement on Wednesday evening. "With the Londoners we grieve over the dead and wounded. On behalf of all Dutch I expressed our feelings of horror and empathy to Theresa May. We are connected as neighbors and friends and are ready to support Great Britain where necessary. The heart of British democracy bleeds today. But the values representing Westminster are stronger than hatred. Side by side, we continue to fight with the British against terrorism. For freedom and for humanity."
Minister Bert Koenders of Foreign Affairs, who was in Washington meeting with the international coalition in the fight against terrorist organization ISIS when the attack happened, also expressed his condolences and offered support to his British counterpart Boris Johnson. He said that as far as is known, no Dutch fell victim to the attack. But that it could not be ruled out with 100 percent certainty.
British Prime Minister Theresa May called the attack "sick and depraved" in a press conference. She called on everyone in London to continue with their lives as normal. Parliament will meet again on Thursday. "Londoners and others from around the world who have come here to visit this great city will get up and go about their day as normal. They will board their trains, they will leave their hotels, they will walk these streets. They will live their lives. And we will all move forward together. Never giving in to terror. And never allowing the voices of hate and evil to drive us apart."