A man has been killed and another eight were injured after a van collided with pedestrians outside a mosque in London.
London’s Metropolitan Police have confirmed that counter-terrorism police were investigating the incident which occurred on Seven Sisters Road, near Finsbury Park station in the northern part of the city.
The injured have been taken to three separate hospitals; two people were treated at the scene for minor injuries.
The driver of the van — a man aged 48 — arrested by police at the scene.
Police reportedly found him retrained by members of public when they arrived at 12:15 a.m. local time Monday.
He has been taken to hospital as a precaution, and will be taken into custody once discharged.
Few details of the attacker have been revealed, and his identity is still unknown.
“Due to the nature of this incident extra policing resources have been deployed in order to reassure communities, especially those observing Ramadan,” the Metropolitan Police said.
The police also confirmed that there are no reports of knife injuries at this stage.
British Prime Minister Theresa May has described it as a “terrible incident”.
“Police have confirmed this is being treated as a potential terrorist attack,” she said. “I will chair an emergency meeting later this morning.”
“All my thoughts are with the victims, their families and the emergency services on the scene.”
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said he was “totally shocked by the incident”.
“I’ve been in touch with the mosques, police and Islington council regarding the incident,” he said.
“My thoughts are with those and the community affected by this awful event.”
London mayor, Sadiq Khan, said “this was clearly a deliberate attack on innocent Londoners” and has urged the public to remain calm and vigilant.
Police sealed off adjacent streets and said they were dealing with “a major incident.” London Ambulance Service sent “a number of resources” to the scene including ambulance crews, advance paramedics and specialist responses teams.
“We are working closely with other members of the emergency services at the scene,” the ambulance service said.
“Our priority is to assess the level and nature of injuries and ensure those in the most need are treated first and taken to hospital.
“More information will follow when we have it.”
— London Ambulance (@Ldn_Ambulance) June 19, 2017
The area was brimming with people as Muslim worshippers were departing from evening prayers, according to the BBC. The Muslim Council of Britain said its “prayers were with the victims”.
Witnesses at the scene have described the incident as “horrible” and “hell”.
Horrible to watch police officers doing cardiac massage at people on the floor, desperately trying to save them. I just hope they did.
— Cynthia Vanzella (@cynthiavanzella) June 18, 2017
Here are images of the scene moments after the incident.
— Tom Hirst (@Thomasvanhulle) June 18, 2017
There are reports that the pedestrians were hit after they left a mosque following prayers for the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.
The Muslim Council of Britain has condemned the incident and said witness accounts described the van “intentionally ploughed into a group of worshippers who were already tending to someone who had been taken ill”.
Harun Khan, secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain said:
“During the night, ordinary British citizens were set upon while they were going about their lives, completing their night worship. My prayers are with the victims and their families. It appears from eye witness accounts that the perpetrator was motivated by Islamophobia.
Over the past weeks and months, Muslims have endured many incidents of Islamophobia, and this is the most violent manifestation to date.
Given we are approaching the end of the month of Ramadan and the celebration of Eid with many Muslims going to local mosques, we expect the authorities to increase security outside mosques as a matter of urgency.
Muslim communities have been calling for increased action to tackle the growth in hate crime for many years and transformative action must now be taken to tackle not only this incident but the hugely worrying growth in Islamophobia.
Many will feel terrorised, no doubt be angry and saddened by what has taken place tonight. We urge calm as the investigation establishes the full facts, and in these last days of Ramadan, pray for those affected and for justice.”
Monday’s incident marks the third deadly attack since March involving a vehicle running into pedestrians in London. In March, a lone motorist mowed down dozens of pedestrians on Westminster Bridge, killing five, before exiting his vehicle and fatally stabbing a police officer.
Earlier this month, several people were arrested for an attack in which a van drove into pedestrians on London Bridge before assailants exited the vehicle and began stabbing passersby at Borough Market. Eight people died in the attack.
The UK is also reeling from a suicide bombing at Manchester Arena last month in which 22 people died and 119 were injured.
This story is developing.
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