A man plowed a van into a group of Muslim worshippers leaving a London mosque early Monday morning, injuring at least 10 people in an incident British authorities are treating as an act of terrorism.
Police responded to a call of a report of a van striking a group of Muslims who were leaving evening prayers at the Finsbury Park mosque at about 12:20 a.m. local time.
Police said 10 people were injured in the attack, eight of whom have been hospitalized. The driver of the van, a 48-year-old man, was arrested at the scene after being detained by several members of the public. Authorities said one person was killed in the attack, but authorities later said it’s unclear if the victim died as a direct result of the incident.
“Sadly Londoners are waking to the news of another dreadful incident in the capital that has left a number of people seriously injured,” Deputy Assistant Commissioner of the Counter Terrorism Command Neil Basu told reporters early Monday. “The attack unfolded whilst a man was receiving first aid from the public at the scene, sadly, he has died. Any causative link between his death and the attack will form part of our investigation. It is too early to state if his death was as a result of the attack.”
Basu said officers in the immediate vicinity responded to the attack while additional support arrived within 10 minutes of the call.
British Prime Minister Theresa May called the attack near the north London mosque a “sickening” attempt to destroy liberties that unite Britain, such as freedom of worship.
“This morning, our country woke to news of another terrorist attack on the streets of our capital city. The second this month and every bit as sickening as those of which have come before,” May said. “It was an attack that once again target the ordinary and the innocent going about their daily lives: this time British Muslims as they left a mosque having broken their fast and prayed together at this sacred time of year.
“Today we come together as we have done before, to condemn this act and to state once again that hatred and evil of this kind will never succeed,” the prime minister said. “Officers were in the immediate vicinity as the attack unfolded and responded within one minute. Police declared it a terrorist incident within eight minutes. One man was pronounced dead at the scene.”
The Muslim Council of Britain tweeted that the vehicle ran over worshippers as they were leaving the Finsbury Park Mosque after late-night prayers.
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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.
Authorities said the driver of the van was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder. Police have yet to release his name and said he was taken to a hospital out of precaution.
-with files from Global News reporter Rahul Kalvapallé