LONDON (Reuters) - Armed soldiers have been deployed at a top tourist attraction in the heart of London’s government district as a precautionary measure after an Islamist gunman attacked the Canadian parliament last week, a military source said on Tuesday.
The source told Reuters that the decision to deploy the troops at the entrance to Horse Guards Parade in London’s Whitehall was not motivated by a specific threat but was designed to be a visible deterrent.
Large throngs of tourists gather each day at Horse Guards, a short distance from Prime Minister David Cameron’s official residence, to watch the ceremonial changing of the guard.
The source said the decision had been taken by a local military commander in response to events in Canada last week, when a soldier standing guard at an Ottawa war memorial was fatally shot by a man police said was a radical recent convert to Islam who then charged into the parliament building.
London’s Metropolitan Police force was responsible for security on the streets of the British capital and armed soldiers had only deployed at the tourist attraction because it was also a military barracks, the source said.
Britain raised its terrorism alert in August to the second-highest level with Cameron saying that Islamic State militants operating in Syria and Iraq posed the greatest threat to the country’s security risk.
Hundreds of British Muslims have traveled to the region to fight and some of them have already returned home, raising fears about a possible attack on British soil.
A spokesman from the Ministry of Defence said: “The MoD routinely reviews the security arrangements at all of its establishments. Clearly we do not comment publicly on the substance of these.”
Reporting by Andrew Osborn and Kylie MacLellan; Editing by Andrew Osborn