Finsbury Park attack: 1 dead after vehicle rams into worshippers near London mosque
One man was pronounced dead at the scene and eight people were injured after a vehicle was driven into a crowd of pedestrians in north London early Monday.
A 48-year-old man was arrested in connection with the incident and will be taken into custody before being made to undergo a mental health assessment, London’s Metropolitan Police Service said in a statement.
The Muslim Council of Britain tweeted that the vehicle ran over worshippers as they were leaving the Finsbury Park Mosque after late-night prayers.
WATCH: Witnesses at scene say 3 men in vehicle tried to runaway after ramming worshippers in London, England
Miqdaad Versi, assistant secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain, said the van had deliberately swerved into a group of people who were helping a man who was ill and had fallen to the ground.
“A number of passers-by, or friends, or people who had come by from the mosque, were gathering around him to help take him to his family, take him to his house,” Versi told Reuters.
“At that moment in time, basically a van swerved into them deliberately,” he said, citing a witness at the scene.
“From the window, I started hearing a lot of yelling and screeching, a lot of chaos outside… Everybody was shouting, ‘A van’s hit people, a van’s hit people’,” a woman who lives in the area told the BBC.
“There was this white van stopped outside Finsbury Park Mosque that seemed to have hit people who were coming out after prayers had finished. I didn’t see the attacker himself, although he seems to have been arrested, but I did see the van.”
The Evening Standard reported that a man jumped out of the vehicle with a knife, and stabbed at least one person before being wrestled to the floor by bystanders.
However, Metropolitan Police said there were no reports of any knife injuries.
Witness Cynthia Vanzella tweeted that police officers were frantically administering cardiac massage to victims on the ground.
British Prime Minister Theresa May said her thoughts were with the injured.
“This is a terrible incident,” May said in an emailed statement. “All my thoughts are with those who have been injured, their loved ones, and the emergency services on the scene.”
The Guardian reported reported that counter-terrorism police were investigating the incident to help ascertain whether the collision was accidental or intentional.
The Finsbury Park Mosque was once considered a haven for homegrown British radicalization during the tenure of radical Egyptian imam Abu Hamza al-Masri, according to a classified American diplomatic document published by Wikileaks in 2011.
Al-Masri was arrested in 2004 and sentenced to life in prison in the U.S. in 2015, convicted of terrorism-related charges.
During the intervening years, the mosque reorganized under the stewardship of new management and cleaned up its act, but continued to be the target of anti-Muslim vandalism, the document states.
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