Germany's Merkel expresses shock at London attack

German Chancellor Angela Merkel gives a speech at the demographic summit in Berlin, Germany, March 16, 2017. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

BERLIN (Reuters) - German Chancellor Angela Merkel expressed shock at the attack in which four people were killed and at least 20 injured in London on Wednesday, and she said her thoughts were with the British people and everyone in the capital.

In the attack close to the British parliament a car ploughed into pedestrians and an attacker stabbed a policeman, in what police called a terrorist incident.

“Although the background to these incidents still needs to be exactly clarified, I confirm on behalf of Germany and its citizens that we stand firmly and resolutely by Britain’s side when it comes to fighting any kind of terrorism,” Merkel said in an emailed statement.

In December, a failed Tunisian asylum seeker pledging allegiance to Islamic State killed 12 people in Berlin by driving a truck into a crowded festive market.

German security officials said they remained on high alert for a possible attack, but there had been no change in security procedures.

Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said on Wednesday that the London attack was likely a terrorist incident.

“It has not yet been definitely established what the motive for the brutal incident was. There are many indications that there was a terrorist background,” de Maiziere said in an emailed statement.

He added that German security authorities were in close contact with their British counterparts.

German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said it was probably no coincidence that the attack happened near parliament, adding: “It was supposed to show that the intention was to attack the heart of our democracies, so it’s an attack on us all.”

Reporting by Michelle Martin and Andrea Shalal; Editing by Hugh Lawson