Malaysian students in London stunned by terror attack

  • Nation
  • Thursday, 23 Mar 2017

A forensics investigator works at the scene after an attack on Westminster Bridge in London, Britain March 22, 2017. -Reuters

LONDON: One of the first things that Malaysians in London did upon hearing of the attack outside Britain's Houses of Parliament was to check on one another to make sure no one was harmed.

Others marked themselves as 'safe' on Facebook so that those at home would not worry.

"WhatsApp groups were buzzing, everyone was checking up on each other's whereabouts to make sure they were alright," postgraduate student Nadirah Karim told The Star Online.

"We always hear it happening to other people in other places, but it's a completely different feeling when it's happening where you are at that moment.

Especially when most of our university campuses are scattered all over London, walking over Westminster Bridge to go to the next class, or sitting by the park to eat lunch is a routine," said the 24-year-old International Relations student.

When the attack took place, Nadirah was meeting a friend for lunch in Oxford Street, about 3km away from Westminster Palace.

Nadirah said that she did not hear or see anything initially, and was only informed about what was happening from people in Malaysia.

"My friend and I were eating and catching up, so we weren't looking at our phones. But after a while, I checked it to find a number of messages from friends in Malaysia asking me if I was ok. I had no clue what was going on until I checked the news and found out that an attack had just taken place over at Westminster only 15 minutes away," said the student.

Nadirah, who is from the War Studies department at King's College London, explained that she was still in shock as the attack was "too close for comfort".

"I had just done a presentation on terrorism in my War on Terror class in the morning, and it was something I've been researching on and reading a lot about over the past week. So to suddenly hear about it happening in real time a stone's throw away, I was completely stunned," she said.

"I couldn't believe it was happening. Here I am at Oxford Street, one of the busiest places in Central London, of course I couldn't help but to feel scared about the possibility of an attack here as well," she said.

When Nadirah spotted a few military helicopters in the sky and found that the London tube service had been suspended, she knew that it was a serious matter and headed home as soon as possible.

International political economy student Azielia Anne, 25, was in the King's College London library at Chancery Lane, about 4km from the scene of the incident.

"I was working on my laptop at the time and received news on my phone within five minutes," she said, adding that she later heard helicopters hovering above.

Although Azielia saw some students pick up their phones to make calls, she described the situation in the library as calm.

However, Azielia is concerned about any anti-Muslim sentiment that might grow following the attack.

"I feel a little worried because I saw some tweets targeted at Muslims. And in the midst of Brexit, there is a heavy anti-immigration tone and that's a bit terrifying," she said.

University College London (UCL) student Abel Law, 21, is keeping caution after the attack.

"I initially thought it was a joke because I did not believe something as serious as this could be happening in the city where I was living," the law student said.

"I'm very, very wary of crowded areas and a little bit afraid to go out for the next couple of days. I'm also extremely confused as to why the terror attack would take place at that particular time in London as well as the motives behind the attack. But all in all, I'm just very, very cautious at this point in time," he said.

Four people were killed and 40 injured after being run over and stabbed in a lightning attack at Westminster Bridge. The attacker's car struck pedestrians on the bridge before crashing into the railings surrounding the Houses of Parliament. The assailant then ran through the gates brandishing a knife and stabbed a 48-year-old policeman to death before being shot dead by another officer.

Wisma Putra said that no Malaysians have been hurt in the terror attack. A foreign ministry spokesman told Bernama that they were monitoring developments closely and would provide updates.


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