One dead, 10 injured in London mosque incident: police
UK PM May thinks it as a potential terrorist attack
Published : 19 Jun 2017, 11:25
One person was killed and 10 others injured today when a van collided with pedestrians near a North London mosque in an incident which is being investigated by counter-terrorism officers, police said.
"One man was pronounced dead at the scene," the Metropolitan police said in a statement.
Police said eight people had been taken to three separate hospitals and two people were treated at the scene for minor injuries.
A 48-year old van driver, who was detained by members of public at the scene and then arrested by police, has been taken to hospital and will be subject to a mental health assessment.
‘A potential terrorist attack’
British Prime Minister Theresa May said the incident near the mosque was being treated by police as a potential terrorist attack.
"Police have confirmed this is being treated as a potential terrorist attack," May 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," she said.
Harun Khan, the head of the MCB, said the van had "intentionally" run over people leaving night prayers for the holy month of Ramadan.
A reporter could see a helicopter overhead and several emergency vehicles at the scene on Seven Sisters Road, a busy thoroughfare.
Police, including armed officers, could be seen manning a wide cordon around the area. Others searched the area with sniffer dogs.
A group of Muslim men could be seen praying on the pavement nearby. Traffic was shut down along a one-kilometre section of Seven Sisters Road.
"We saw lots of people shouting and lots of people injured," David Robinson, 41, who arrived just after the accident.
Cynthia Vanzella, who lives near the scene, said on Twitter: "Horrible to watch police officers doing cardiac massage at people on the floor, desperately trying to save them. I just hope they did."
MCB deputy head Miqdaad Versi said the incident happened "outside the Muslim Welfare House", which is on Seven Sisters Road near the mosque.
The London Ambulance Service said: "We have sent a number of ambulance crews, advance paramedics and specialist responses teams to the scene.
"Our priority is to assess the level and nature of injuries and ensure that those most in need are treated first and taken to hospital."
Police described it as a "major incident".
Finsbury Park mosque was once a notorious hub for radical Islamists but has entirely changed in recent years under new management.
Its former imam Abu Hamza was jailed for life in New York on terrorism charges in 2015.
He preached there from 1997 to 2003 before being jailed for inciting violence. He was later extradited to the United States.
In 2015, the mosque was one of around 20 that took part in an open day organised by the MCB to promote better understanding of Islam following Islamist-inspired terrorist attacks in Paris.
Despite the change in leadership and new focus on community relations, the mosque reported it had received a string of threatening emails and letters in the wake of the Paris attacks.
"If this attack is confirmed as a deliberate terrorist attack then this should be classed as an act of terrorism," said Mohammed Shafiq, head of the Ramadhan Foundation community group.
"The British Muslim community requires all decent people to stand with us against this evil violence," he said, adding that "rampant Islamophobia has been on the rise for a number of years".
Cage, a Muslim human rights group, said there had been "an epidemic rise in anti-Muslim hate crimes".
"We urge all to remain calm and do their utmost not to inflame an already volatile and distressing situation," it said in a statement.
Spike in anti-Muslim crime
Monday's incident in London follows an Islamist-inspired attack on June 3 in which three militants wearing fake suicide vests ran over pedestrians and went on a stabbing spree in bars in the London Bridge area.
They killed eight people before being shot dead by police.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan said following that attack that there had been a 40-percent increase in racist incidents in the city and a fivefold increase in the number of anti-Muslim incidents.
On his Facebook page, Khan at the time called on Londoners "to pull together, and send a clear message around the world that our city will never be divided by these hideous individuals who seek to harm us and destroy our way of life".
Britain has seen two other attacks this year.
On March 22, a man drove a rented car into pedestrians on Westminster Bridge in London and stabbed a police officer guarding the British parliament to death before being shot dead.
Five people were killed in the attack.
On May 22, a suicide bomber blew himself up outside a pop concert in Manchester, killing 22 people.
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