Vehicle Hits Pedestrians Near London Mosque; One Arrest Is Made
By Gregory Katz / Associated Press
Truthdig update: Authorities are now treating the incident as an act of terrorism against Muslims. One person is dead, and at least 10 are injured.)
LONDON — A vehicle struck pedestrians near a mosque in north London early Monday morning, causing several casualties, police said.
One person has been arrested but police have not said if the crash was deliberate or accidental.
The London Ambulance Service says the injured are being taken to hospitals. Eyewitnesses reported seeing police give emergency medical treatment to at least one of the injured.
The Muslim Council tweeted that worshippers were struck by a van as they were leaving prayers near the Finsbury Park mosque. It said its prayers are 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.
Eyewitness 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.
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 hit by a severe attack when a bomber killed more than 20 people at an Ariana Grande concert.