Van runs down worshippers near London mosque, suspect arrested

Jun 18, 2017, 5:53 PM | Updated: Jun 19, 2017, 7:24 am
(Twitter Photo/@Jeggit)...
(Twitter Photo/@Jeggit)
(Twitter Photo/@Jeggit)

A van struck pedestrians near a mosque in north London early Monday morning, killing one and injuring several, police said.

Officials said they were investigating the attack as a terror crime.

A white male, 48, was arrested after several citizens detained him on the street.

The London Ambulance Service said the injured were taken to hospitals. Eyewitnesses reported seeing police give emergency medical treatment to at least one victim.

The Muslim Council tweeted that worshippers were struck by a van as they were leaving prayers near the Finsbury Park mosque. The council said its prayers were with the victims.

London police have declared the crash a major incident and closed the area to normal traffic. A helicopter circled above the area as a large cordon was established to keep motorists and pedestrians away.

Eyewitnesses told Sky News and other British media that the van seemed to have veered and hit people intentionally. Police did not confirm that.

Mohammed Shafiq of the Ramadhan Foundation, a Muslim organization, said that based on eyewitness reports it seems to be a “deliberate attack against innocent Muslims.”

The neighborhood has two mosques, and several hundred worshippers would have been in the area after attending prayers as part of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

The Finsbury Park mosque was associated with extremist ideology for several years after the 9/11 attacks in the United States but was shut down and reorganized. It has not been associated with radical views for more than a decade.

Prime Minister Theresa May described the crash as a “terrible incident.” The statement from her office said her thoughts were with the injured, their loved ones and emergency services who responded to the scene.

Metropolitan Police said officers were called to the scene on Seven Sisters Road at 12:20 a.m. Monday.

Police have not offered any details about the cause of the crash.

Britain’s terrorist alert has been set at “severe” meaning an attack is highly likely.

This marks just the latest in a string of incidents in the London area.

Most recently a London tower fire killed 58 people, while earlier this month, a van veered into pedestrians on London Bridge, setting off vehicle and knife attacks that killed eight people and wounded many others on the bridge and in the nearby Borough Market area.

Three Muslim extremists who carried out the attack were killed by police.

Manchester was also attacked when a bomber killed more than 20 people at an Ariana Grande concert.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Van runs down worshippers near London mosque, suspect arrested