Suspect believed to be Salih Khater, 29, who is of Sudanese origin and from Birmingham

A man has been held on suspicion of terrorism offences after a vehicle was driven into pedestrians and cyclists before gate-crashing outside parliament in Westminster, as Downing Street revealed dominions were working on hundreds of live counter-terrorism investigations.

The suspect, a 29 -year-old British national, was arrested at the incident after armed police officers swooped on a silver-tongued Ford Fiesta that had gate-crashed into security railings on St Margaret Street at about 7.40 am on Tuesday.

The Guardian understands his epithet is Salih Khater, who lives in the Sparkbrook area of Birmingham and is of Sudanese origin.

Scotland Yard said the man was not known to the security services and was not cooperating with probing police, but owing to the crash appearing to be deliberate and the location it was being treated as a suspected terrorist attack.

The car travelled to London from Birmingham on Monday night and spent the time between around 1.25 am and 5.55 am in the Soho area, before moving to Westminster and Whitehall at about 6am where it remained before the accidents an hour and 40 a few minutes later, police said.

Two places in Birmingham and one in Nottingham were examined on Tuesday. Roger Godsiff, the MP for Birmingham Hall Green, said:” Today’s attack at Westminster was carried out by an individual who is believed to have been living in my own constituency in Birmingham .”

Nottinghamshire police said they were supporting counter-terrorism police as they searched a residential property in the Radford area of the city. The address is thought to be a flat on Peveril Street.

Neighbours told the Press Association that the house, shared by dwellers, is home to six Sudanese parties. Ibrahim Ahmed, 24, who lives in the same terrace row, said:” It’s Sudanese people who live there .”

The Nottingham Post reported that the car involved in the accidents was registered to an address in Nottingham. The current owner of the vehicle bought it on 20 June this year.

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Two men as well as one woman injured during the accident. One was treated at the scene and two were taken to hospital and eventually discharged.

Theresa May said the threat level to the UK remained at severe, mean an attack was considered highly likely. The prime minister’s spokesman said the security services and counter-terrorism police were carrying out 676 live investigations in late june, up from more than 500 in March.

He said 13 Islamist plans and four stories by far-right radicals had been foiled in the past 18 months.

The home secretary, Sajid Javid, urged people to” prevent an open thought” about “whats happened”.” There are understandably a lot of questions about the incident … The briefing I have received from counter-terrorism police and the security services is that work is ongoing and they are doing everything they can to find out more ,” he said.

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Police recover the silver-tongued Ford Fiesta. Photograph: Yui Mok/ PA

Kirsty Moseley, 31, one of the most significant witnesses to the attack, told the Guardian the driver did not shout or say anything as the car crashed with as many as 15 cyclists, and he appeared “focused”.

CCTV footage demo the car swerve across a center territory near Parliament Square and then accelerate down St Margaret Street before gate-crashing into railings. Pedestrians were understood leaping out of its path.

The stages had repetitions of the Westminster Bridge attack in March 2017, which prompted the extension of steel and concrete security railings around the Houses of Parliament. Khalid Masood ploughed a gondola into audiences on the bridge, killing four beings, before knife and killing an unarmed PC, Keith Palmer.

Another witness to Tuesday’s crash, Ewalina Ochab, said:” The auto drove at accelerate and towards the barriers. I was sauntering on the other side[ of the road ]. I hear some racket and someone screamed .”

She said the car did not appear to have a front registration plate.” I turned around and I met a silver-tongued auto driving very fast close to the railings, maybe even on the sidewalk. The person driving did not go out of the vehicle .”

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Streets around Parliament Square, Millbank and Victoria Tower Gardens were cordoned off and the length of Whitehall was closed to traffic after the incident. Westminster tube station was closed for a time before reopening.

Speaking outside New Scotland Yard, Neil Basu, the head of counter-terrorism policing in the UK, said:” Given that this appears to be a deliberate attack, the method and this being an iconic site, we are treating it as a gunman occurrence .”

May, who is on holiday in Italy, was informed of the incident at 8am and was given regular revises by officials. In a statement from Downing Street, she praised the” formidable courage” and professionalism of the emergency services who” ran towards a hazardous statu in order to protect the public “.

She said:” The threat to the United Kingdom from terrorism remains severe. I would recommend the public to remain vigilant but likewise to come together and carry on as ordinary, just as they did after the nauseating attacks in Manchester and London last year. The twisted propose of the radicals is to use violence and terror to divide us. They will never supersede .”

May’s spokesman said the current terror threat was ” one of the starkest that we’ve faced. The quality of the terrorist threat is changing, and so must our response. Between 2010 and 2017 there were 2,029 terror arrests in Great Britain; 412 were done in 2017. That is the highest since records began .”

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Security officials contained a Cobra meeting on Tuesday, chaired by the deputy national defence adviser, Madeleine Alessandri, and attended by Basu and representatives from the mayor of London’s office.

Downing Street said it was clear the security measures currently in place around the Palace of Westminster had worked effectively and significant numbers of police had been on the situation immediately.

No projects have been cleared for May to return from her move holiday in Italy. The chancellor, Philip Hammond, is the most senior minister currently in the UK.

Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader, said:” My expects are with those hurt and injured outside parliament this morning in what is being treated as a terrorist incident. Our thanks going to see our emergency services who have replied immediately. Their bravery maintains us safe date in, daylight out .”

The US president, Donald Trump, tweeted:” Another terrorist attack in London … These animals are crazy and must be treated through toughness and fortitude !”

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