LONDON: A van picks pedestrians near a London mosque earlier on Monday, killing one man and wounding eight others in what Prime Minister Theresa May says is a “potential terrorist attack.”
The 48-year-old driver of the van was owned by the public and then detained by police.
Muslim leaders said the faithful are specifically addressing as they left after prayers near the Finsbury Park mosque in north London shortly after midnight and have linked the incident to a recent increase in hate crimes Anti-Muslims.
Witness Abdiqadir Warra told AFP that the van “has taken people” and some of the victims were transported for several meters along the road.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan said it was a “terrible terrorist attack,” which he called “deliberate” and was “innocent luvois, many of whom ended the prayers during the holy month of the Ramzan.”
He may have had to hold an emergency ministerial meeting on Monday to discuss the attack.
It came after two Islamist attacks fatally this year + using vehicles to carry pedestrians – earlier this month in the London + bridge area and an attack in March when a man drove a car in the bridge crowd Of Westminster.
A witness, Abdul Rahman, told the BBC that he saw the van “deliberately ran about 10 or 15 people.” Rahman said he and another man fought the suspect on the ground and held him for 20 to 30 minutes before the police arrived.
A police statement said: “A man was pronounced dead on the scene … Eight injured were transferred to three different hospitals.”
Two other people were treated at the scene for minor injuries. Police said the male driver was also taken to hospital as a precaution and was to receive a mental health assessment.
The amateur video footage seen by AFP showed at least three people lying on the ground, one of whom was given word of mouth.
“Due to the nature of the incident, additional police resources have been deployed to reassure communities, especially those that follow Ramzan,” the police statement said.
The Muslim Council of Great Britain (MCB), a body that groups British Muslims, said the incident took place outside the Muslim welfare home on the Seven Sisters Road, near the Finsbury park mosque.
“In recent weeks and months, Muslims have had many incidents of Islamophobia and this is the most violent event to date,” said Harun Khan, leader of the MCB.
AFP reporters saw a helicopter hovering over the area and several emergency vehicles blocking a section of Seven Sisters Road, a fierce way.
Police, including armed agents, could be considered a broad cord around the area. Others searched the area with tracking dogs.
A group of Muslim men pray on the sidewalk nearby. Traffic was shut down along a one-kilometer stretch of road.
The Finsbury Park Mosque was once a notorious center for radical Islamists, but has totally changed in recent years under new leadership.
His former imam Abu Hamza was jailed in New York on terrorism charges in 2015.
He preached there from 1997 to 2003 before being imprisoned for instigating violence. He was later extradited to the United States.