LONDON — Armed police on Thursday arrested a man after a car was driven into the gates of Downing Street where Britain's Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and several other senior politicians reside.
A man at the scene was arrested “on suspicion of criminal damage and dangerous driving,” London’s Metropolitan Police said in a statement. “There are no reports of any injuries.”
It was not immediately clear whether the crash was deliberate and police said they were working to establish the circumstances. They added that the incident was not “being treated as terror-related.”
Sunak was in his office at the time, the Associated Press reported.
Video footage posted on social media showed a silver hatchback car heading straight for Downing Street's gates at a slow speed across Whitehall, the main thoroughfare in London’s government district.
Downing Street's gates are manned by armed and unarmed police officers at all times.
Footage shot soon after showed the car with its trunk open up against the tall metal gates and several police officers inspecting the vehicle, pulling things out of the trunk and putting them in evidence bags.
Simon Parry, 44, told Britain’s Press Association news agency that he “heard a bang and looked up and saw loads of police with taser guns shouting at the man.”
He added that “a lot of police vehicles came very quickly and were very quick to evacuate the area.”
Large sections of the surrounding area were closed to the public as a significant police presence entered the area as many government workers were leaving their nearby offices for the day.
The gates were erected in 1989 in response to threats from Irish Republican Army militants. In 1991 the IRA fired three mortars at the street, one of which exploded in the backyard of No. 10 while Prime Minister John Major was leading a Cabinet meeting inside. Three police officers and a civil servant suffered minor injuries.
The area was also targeted in 2017, when an extremist inspired by the Islamic State group killed four people with a vehicle on Westminster Bridge before stabbing a police officer to death outside Parliament.