Hero imam saves Finsbury Park attacker from angry crowd

Police officers walk behind cordon tape at the scene of an attack where a man drove a van at Muslim worshippers outside a mosque in Finsbury Park in North London, Britain, June 19, 2017. (Photo: Reuters/Hannah McKay)
Updated 19 June 2017
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Hero imam saves Finsbury Park attacker from angry crowd

LONDON: An imam has been praised after he saved the Finsbury Park attack suspect from being beaten when crowds pulled him from the van he used to kill one and injure many more.

The incident happened when a van was driven at high speed into pedestrians near a mosque where Muslims had been praying, killing at least one person and injuring 10.

Witnesses said they saw people at the scene grab the man, pulling him from the van and started hitting him. But imam Mohammed Mahmoud stepped up and told the angry crowd to stop and to restrain the suspect until police arrived instead.

One witness, who went by the name Abdul, told The Independent: “People gather on that part of the street during Ramadan to chat and socialize so it was premeditated. He knew what he was doing.

“He waited until people had come out then drove at the people on the right then swerved to hit people on the left. Someone was lying under his van shouting ‘Help me’.
“He tried to run away but we brought him down. He would’ve died because so many people were punching him but the imam came out and said, ‘No more punching, let’s keep him down until the police come.’
Now imam Mahmoud has been praised for his actions. Tewfik Kacimi, chief executive of the nearby Muslim Welfare House, thanked the imam, saying his “bravery and courage helped calm the immediate situation after the incident and prevented further injuries and potential loss of life.”
Witness Hamza Nimane, told BBC Radio 4’s Today program that worshippers from the mosque had managed to capture the attacker before police arrived.
“They’re the ones that grabbed him and managed to hold him down… There were at least 300 people in the mosque praying, and everyone was panicking, everyone was screaming.”
Describing the scene, he said there were people lying in the street, several with blood on their heads. Nimane said some of the people looked dead.
Police arrested the man soon after. Witnesses described him as white, with tattoos, while police later confirmed they had arrested a 48-year-old on suspicion of attempted murder, they added they were not looking for anyone else.
Metropolitan Police deputy assistant commissioner Neil Basu confirmed that the incident was being treated as a “terrorist attack.” He then thanked worshippers who restrained the attacker.


Drought adds to Afghanistan woes

Afghan children fill canisters with water from a water pump outside their temporary homes on the outskirts of Jalalabad. Files/AFP
Updated 12 min 28 sec ago
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Drought adds to Afghanistan woes

  • Intensified conflict in many parts of the country is worsening the effects of the drought
  • More than $115 million was required for a six-month response in the 20 provinces

KABUL: Rain and snow are as important as peace for Afghanistan. But the landlocked and mountainous country this year had its lowest rainfall for years, causing widespread drought and leaving 2 million people facing food shortages.
Livestock in many areas have died, and some farmers have been forced to send their herds for pasture to neighboring Turkmenistan.
Thousands of people have left their homes already due to water shortages, with fears that the situation will worsen in autumn, Afghan and UN officials say.
Twenty of the country’s 34 provinces, including the northern region — Afghanistan’s food basket — have been badly affected, they said.
The aid-reliant Afghan government has begun delivering aid to affected areas. But assistance will be needed for months to come. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said rapid action was needed to enable delivery of food and water. More than $115 million was required for a six-month response in the 20 provinces, it said.
“Drought is gripping large parts of Afghanistan, with more than 2 million people expected to become severely food insecure and in need of humanitarian assistance for survival,” OCHA said.
“A quick, comprehensive response will enable the delivery of food and water to the rural villages and help to avoid the migration of families to cities where they risk losing all of their few possessions, and where they lack shelter and access to health facilities and schools for their children,” it said.
Water points and fountains across the country have dried up, and the lack of rain and snow melt has made rivers run low or dry up, the organization said.
About 1.5 million goats and sheep in northeast regions are struggling to find food and more than half of the 1,000 villages in the province are suffering from lack of water.
Intensified conflict in many parts of the country is worsening the effects of the drought, limiting communities’ access to markets.
In Helmand, village elders reportedly need to obtain special approval from the armed groups to access markets in areas under government control.
In Uruzgan province, people often cannot access the main market in Tirinkot due to fighting and insecurity on the roads to the provincial capital. Following a temporary closure of the road to neighboring Kandahar province in April due to fighting, wheat prices went up by 50 percent in the city, and the price for fresh produce quadrupled within days.
Engineer Mohammed Sediq Hassani, chief of planning in the government’s Disaster Management Department, said the drought has directly and indirectly taken the lives of dozens of people.

“The impact of drought in terms of taking lives is intangible and slow. An indirect impact can be the recent floods, which claimed the lives of 73 people. Floods happen when there is a drought because of the change of the climate,” he told Arab News.