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World

Web Desk
April 2, 2021

Two officers wounded as car rams into US Capitol building

World

Web Desk
Fri, Apr 02, 2021
Police block a street after a vehicle drove into police officers near the US Capitol building in Washington, US, April 2, 2021. AFP/Eric Baradat

WASHINGTON: The US Capitol building has been put on a lockdown after a vehicle rammed into the legislative seat of America, leaving at least two officers wounded, police said Friday.

"USCP is responding to the North Barricade vehicle access point along Independence Avenue for reports someone rammed a vehicle into two USCP officers," US Capitol Police said on Twitter, adding that it was "critical incident".

One suspect was in custody and the individual, as well as the two wounded officers, were "transported to the hospital", the USCP said, adding that "due to the external security threat", some roads were closed.

However, media reports suggested minutes after the incident that the driver of the vehicle died.

The locality around the US Capitol and congressional office buildings were immediately put on a lockdown as dozens of marked and unmarked police cars raced toward America's legislative seat.

All roads leading to the complex were cordoned off as well.

Television footage showed a blue sedan that had crashed into a security barrier on one of the streets leading to Congress, as what appeared to be the injured officers were loaded onto gurneys and into ambulances.

A helicopter was seen hovering overhead, Reuters reported, with pedestrians and onlookers advised to leave.

No information was immediately available on the identity or condition of the driver.

Attack comes as razor-wire fencing removed

Authorities have begun only in the past couple of weeks to remove the outer ring of high, razor-wire-topped fencing erected around the Capitol complex after the January 6 insurrection by thousands of supporters of then-president Donald Trump.

Five people, including a Capitol Police officer, died in the assault inspired by Trump's groundless claims that he had lost the November presidential election due to massive fraud. Since then security officials have said there is an ongoing threat from extreme right groups and Trump supporters.

More than 300 people have been charged in the January attack — including members of armed extremists groups like the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers — and 100 more are expected to be charged, according to Justice Department court filings.

In recent weeks, some security has been loosened, with the number of armed National Guard troops at the Capitol reduced and a security fence that created a broad perimeter around the Capitol complex removed.

The danger on Friday was limited as Congress was in recess and relatively few people were in the building.

But CBS News reported that security officials had already warned congressional staffers of a threat before the car ramming.

Additional input from Reuters and AFP