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Netanyahu offers condolences to Parliament attack victims in phone call to May

British Prime Minister Theresa May (left) shakes hands with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at 10 Downing Street in London on February 6, 2017
Ben STANSALL (AFP)
May thanked Netanyahu for the call and for 'strengthening ties in the war on terrorism'

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke with British Prime Minister Theresa May on Friday to offer his condolences and support following the Islamist-inspired terror attack on Parliament in which four people were killed and at least 50 others injured.

"Netanyahu conveyed his condolences to the families of those who were murdered and to the British people and said that the war on terrorism is incumbent on everyone," said a statement from his office.

British police said earlier on Friday that they had made two further "significant" arrests, bringing to nine the number of people now in custody over Wednesday's rampage in Westminster.

London police also released the first photo of the British-born attacker as they appealed for information from the public. The assailant, whose birth name is Adrian Russell Ajao, was identified on Thursday as Khalid Masood, a 52-year-old who used "a number of aliases" and had a history of violent offences but no terrorist convictions.

The Islamic State group claimed the assailant was one of its "soldiers" acting on a call to target countries in the US-led coalition fighting the jihadists.

Metropolitan Police

May thanked Netanyahu for the conversation and for the two countries' "strengthening ties in the war on terrorism," the statement said.

Other Israeli officials, including President Reuvin Rivlin, Israel's UN envoy Danny Dannon, Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely, and Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan expressed their support and condolences in the wake of the attack.

Netanyahu was on a plane returning from a visit in China when the attack occurred.

In Britain's deadliest terror attack in 12 years, Masood ran down dozens of pedestrians and tourists on Westminster Bridge on Wednesday afternoon before crashing his car into parliament, where he fatally stabbed 48-year-old policeman Keith Palmer before being shot dead.

The other victims were a 43-year-old British woman, Aysha Frade, who was on her way to pick up her two daughters, and an American citizen in his 50s, Kurt Cochran. The death toll rose late Thursday after life support was withdrawn from a 75-year-old man injured in the attack, whom police named as Leslie Rhodes from south London.

Adrian DENNIS (AFP)

Hundreds of people gathered in nearby Trafalgar Square late Thursday for a vigil led by Mayor Sadiq Khan who vowed that "Londoners will never be cowed by terrorism."

The latest attack had echoes of the atrocities in Nice and Berlin when trucks plowed into crowds of people, killing 86 people in the French Riviera city in July and 12 at a market in the German capital just days before Christmas.

The assault on Westminster was the deadliest in Britain since four suicide bombers killed 52 people on the city's transport system in July 2005.

A defiant May had told the reopened parliament that Britain's resolve "will never waver in the face of terrorism," as MPs stood heads bowed for a minute's silence in remembrance of the victims.

Britain's last terror attack was the 2016 assassination of MP Jo Cox by a pro-Nazi sympathiser shortly before the historic but deeply divisive June vote to leave the EU.

In 2013, British soldier Lee Rigby was run down and knifed on a London street to death by two Islamist extremists.

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