Wednesday 23 August 2017

One dead and eight injured as police declare London mosque van attack 'terrorism'

  • Van driven into crowd of worshippers leaving London Mosque
  • One dead, eight hospitalised
  • Man (48) arrested at the scene
  • Incident being treated as 'terror attack'
  • Attacker detained at scene by bystanders
  • Attacker said 'I want to kill Muslims' - witness
  • Theresa May to host emergency meeting this morning
  • Extra police to be deployed in wake of attack
Police officers attend to the scene after a vehicle collided with pedestrians near a mosque in the Finsbury Park neighborhood of North London, Britain June 19, 2017. REUTERS/Neil Hall
Police officers attend to the scene after a vehicle collided with pedestrians near a mosque in the Finsbury Park neighborhood of North London, Britain June 19, 2017. REUTERS/Neil Hall
Emergency crews attend to the scene after a vehicle collided with pedestrians near a mosque in the Finsbury Park neighborhood of North London, Britain June 19, 2017. REUTERS/Neil Hall
Police officers attend to the scene after a vehicle collided with pedestrians near a mosque in the Finsbury Park neighborhood of North London, Britain June 19, 2017. REUTERS/Neil Hall
Armed police officers attend to the scene after a vehicle collided with pedestrians near a mosque in the Finsbury Park neighborhood of North London, Britain June 19, 2017. REUTERS/Neil Hall
Police officers attend to the scene after a vehicle collided with pedestrians near a mosque in the Finsbury Park neighborhood of North London, Britain June 19, 2017. REUTERS/Neil Hall
Police officers attend to the scene after a vehicle collided with pedestrians near a mosque in the Finsbury Park neighborhood of North London, Britain June 19, 2017. REUTERS/Neil Hall
Police officers attend to the scene after a vehicle collided with pedestrians near a mosque in the Finsbury Park neighborhood of North London, Britain June 19, 2017. REUTERS/Neil Hall
Police officers attend to the scene after a vehicle collided with pedestrians near a mosque in the Finsbury Park neighborhood of North London, Britain June 19, 2017. REUTERS/Neil Hall
Men pray after a vehicle collided with pedestrians near a mosque in the Finsbury Park neighborhood of North London, Britain June 19, 2017. REUTERS/Neil Hall
Men pray after a vehicle collided with pedestrians near a mosque in the Finsbury Park neighborhood of North London, Britain June 19, 2017. REUTERS/Neil Hall
A man prays after a vehicle collided with pedestrians near a mosque in the Finsbury Park neighborhood of North London, Britain June 19, 2017. REUTERS/Neil Hall
A man prays after a vehicle collided with pedestrians near a mosque in the Finsbury Park neighborhood of North London, Britain June 19, 2017. REUTERS/Neil Hall TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Men pray after a vehicle collided with pedestrians near a mosque in the Finsbury Park neighborhood of North London, Britain June 19, 2017. REUTERS/Neil Hall TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Men pray after a vehicle collided with pedestrians near a mosque in the Finsbury Park neighborhood of North London, Britain June 19, 2017. REUTERS/Neil Hall TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
A man prays after a vehicle collided with pedestrians near a mosque in the Finsbury Park neighborhood of North London, Britain June 19, 2017. REUTERS/Neil Hall
Police officers attend to the scene after a vehicle collided with pedestrians near a mosque in the Finsbury Park neighborhood of North London, Britain June 19, 2017. REUTERS/Neil Hall
Men pray after a vehicle collided with pedestrians near a mosque in the Finsbury Park neighborhood of North London, Britain June 19, 2017.
A man prays after a vehicle collided with pedestrians near a mosque in the Finsbury Park neighborhood of North London, Britain June 19, 2017. REUTERS/Neil Hall TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Police officers attend to the scene after a vehicle collided with pedestrians near a mosque in the Finsbury Park neighborhood of North London, Britain June 19, 2017. REUTERS/Neil Hall
Emergency crews attend to the scene after a vehicle collided with pedestrians near a mosque in the Finsbury Park neighborhood of North London, Britain June 19, 2017. REUTERS/Neil Hall
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

An incident in which a pedestrian died after a man drove a van into a crowd of worshippers near a mosque was "quite clearly an attack on Muslims", Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick said.

The van driver, described by witnesses as a large white man, was detained by members of the public after the attack in Seven Sisters Road at 12.20am on Monday.

The attacker struck as the area was busy with worshippers attending Ramadan night prayers at Finsbury Park mosque.

However, police say it is not yet clear if the man who died was killed in the attack as he was already receiving first aid at the scene.

Speaking at 10 Downing Street after a meeting of the UK's Cobra committee Prime Minister Theresa May said the early indication was that the attacker had acted alone.

She said the terrorism attack was like all others in that it "seeks to drive us apart... [but] we will not let this happen".

It was "every bit as sickening as those which have come before" and targeted the "ordinary and the innocent".

One witness described being surrounded by bodies in the wake of the attack outside the Muslim Welfare House, yards from the mosque.

Another witness, who wanted to be identified as Abdulrahman, which is not his real name, told the Press Association: "I managed to get the driver of the van.

"He wanted to run away and was saying, 'I want to kill Muslims'.

"So he came back to the main road and I managed to get him to the ground and me and some other guys managed to hold him until the police arrived, for about 20 minutes I think, until the police arrived."

Abdulrahman claimed the driver said, 'kill me,' as he was held on the ground.

He added: "I said, 'tell me why did you try driving to kill innocent people?'

"When he went into the [police] van he made gestures, he was laughing."

Video posted online of the aftermath of Monday's attack showed a scene of chaos as people tried to help the injured.

One man could been seen giving CPR to a victim in the street while another man's head injury was treated with a makeshift dressing.

People could be heard shouting and screaming amid the chaos and bloodstains were visible on the pavement.

In one video, a group of men are seen holding the suspect to the ground as they call for the police.

Eight people were taken to hospital and two more were treated for minor injuries at the scene.

The Metropolitan Police said the incident is being treated as terrorism.

Metropolitan Police Deputy Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu said: "This is being treated as a terrorist attack."

Mr Basu said eight people are in hospital and two others were treated at the scene.

All of the casualties were Muslims, he added.

He said: "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."

Earlier police said of the attacker:

"He has been taken to hospital as a precaution and will be taken into custody once discharged.

"He will also be subject of a mental health assessment in due course."

Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, described it as "a horrific terrorist attack".

Mr Khan urged people to "remain calm and vigilant" and said the Met had deployed extra police to reassure communities, especially those observing Ramadan.

Muslim Council of Britain secretary general Harun Khan condemned the attack and also urged calm.

He 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 eyewitness 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."

He added: "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."

Meanwhile, the East London Mosque Statement: Finsbury Park terrorist attack.

We are shocked and horrified by the terrorist attack on Muslim worshippers in Finsbury Park this morning, which has resulted in one fatality and several serious injuries. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families.

"We condemn this cowardly attack, as we do all terror attacks, in the strongest terms possible. This is a heinous crime motivated by hatred of Muslims. This is the 3rd terrorist attack on London in three months. Once again terrorists seek to divide our society and create hatred for each other. They will not succeed.

"We praise the community for their swift response in helping the police to arrest one of the men who deliberately ploughed into worshippers who were leaving the Mosque.

"An emergency meeting has been called with our local police commander and local authority to review security concerns for our mosque and others in Tower Hamlets. We urge vigilance against further terrorist attacks and violent hate crimes.

"We urge the relevant authorities to treat this with the same urgency and seriousness as other terrorist attacks. Muslims have been demanding better legislation and action on hate crimes for a while, this attack once again brings home the critical need to do so."

There has been an increase in hate crime reports since the Manchester Arena bombing and the London Bridge attack.

One resident told the Press Association he jumped out of the way as the van struck pedestrians.

The man, who did not want to be named, said: "The gentleman went straight down this road, people were just conversing, talking, just doing what we're doing.

"And he just came into all of us. There was a lot of people.

"I was shocked, shocked, shocked. There were bodies around me."

Abdikadar Warfa said: "I saw a man underneath the van. He was bleeding. My friend said he had to lift the van.

"I was busy with a man who tried to escape. My friend said he said some words, but I didn't hear it.

"They (people who were hit) were mostly young. They are very bad.

"I tried to stop him (the suspect), some people were hitting him but I said stop him and keep him until the police came.

"He was trying to run away but people overpowered him. He was fighting to run away."

Images of the van showed it was rented from Pontyclun Van Hire in Pontyclun, near Cardiff.

Finsbury Park mosque was once infamous as the stamping ground of hook-handed hate preacher Abu Hamza.

But it was raided and shut down and later reclaimed by the local Muslim community, who have transformed it into a place which actively promotes better community relations across faiths.

In 2015 it was the target of an attempted arson when a white man with a jerrycan full of petrol tried to light it and throw it over the railings in front of the site before fleeing on a moped.

Press Association

Editors Choice

Also in World News