At least one person has been confirmed dead, and eight more injured after a van mounted the pavement and ploughed into a group of worshippers in a terrorist attack outside a mosque in Finsbury Park, London.
The incident happened at around 12.20am on Monday morning outside the Muslim Welfare House on Seven Sisters Road. The street was filled with worshippers who had just left the mosque following Ramadan prayers. Witnesses say the attacker shouted out that he wanted to “kill all Muslims”.
The driver, a 48-year-old man, was detained by an imam before being arrested at the scene and taken to hospital as a precaution. Two witnesses say they saw three men in the van, but police say there are currently no other suspects.
London mayor Sadiq Khan has called the incident, which is being investigated by the counter-terrorism unit, a “horrific terrorist attack” on “innocent Londoners”.
Prime Minister Theresa May will chair a Cobra emergency committee meeting later this morning.
One witness, Ratip Alsulaimen, told PA: “I was sitting in the coffee shop just a couple of minutes away.
“One of our friends was reporting what was going on in the front of the mosque.
“He said the car was smashing into the people getting out of the mosque, so we just ran away, all of us, and came to see what’s happening.
“When I came I saw ambulance people taking people to the ambulance. I think between eight to 10 people were taken away.
“There was an old man - about 60 years old - I don’t know if he’s alive or dead. There were other people, mid-30 to 40. There are men and women.
“We are shocked when we heard the news because we were just having a good time. We were praying for peace and for Grenfell Tower. When we heard this we were actually shocked.”
Another, Abdikadar Warfa, added: “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.”
Jeremy Corbyn, whose constituency includes Finsbury Park, has released a statement saying he was “totally shocked” by the incident, while Diane Abbott, Labour MP for neighbouring Hackney North and Stoke Newington, has called for a review of security for all mosques.
The Muslim Welfare House released a statement before 6am saying “We would appeal for calm at this time”, adding: “We have worked very hard over decades to build a peaceful and tolerant community here in Finsbury Park and we totally condemn any act of hate that tries to drive our wonderful community apart.”
Witnesses have described how an imam from the mosque protected the van driver from angry members of the public until the police arrive to arrest him.
Miqdaad Versi, assistant general secretary of the Muslim Council of Britain forward on a statement from the mosque, saying: “All of our efforts should be towards getting justice for the victims and ensuring our community stays the diverse, tolerant and welcome place we know it to be.”