LONDON: A van plowed into worshippers leaving a London mosque on Monday, injuring 10 people in what witnesses said was a deliberate attack on Muslims.
Eyewitnesses said the van was driven by an attacker who shouted: “I want to kill all Muslims.”
One man, who was already being given first aid at the scene before the vehicle was driven into pedestrians, has died but police said it was not clear whether his death was directly linked. Eight others are in hospital, with two in a very serious condition.
The incident was being treated as a potential terrorist attack, said Prime Minister Theresa May, which if confirmed would make it the fourth since March in Britain and the third to involve a vehicle deliberately driven at pedestrians.
"This had all the hallmarks of a terrorist incident," said Neil Basu, senior national co-ordinator for counter-terrorism policing. "This was an attack on London and all Londoners."
Police said the 48-year-old man who was driving the car has been arrested and taken to a hospital as a precaution. He will be given a mental health evaluation.
The crash occurred shortly after midnight when police received reports of a collision between a van and pedestrians.
The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), an umbrella body, said on Twitter: “We have been informed that a van has run over worshippers as they left #FinsburyPark Mosque. Our prayers are with the victims.
Harun Khan, the head of the MCB, tweeted that the van had “intentionally” run over people leaving night prayers held during the holy month of Ramadan.
Prime Minister Theresa May said her thoughts were with those injured in “this terrible incident.” The leader of the opposition Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, said he was “totally shocked.”
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.
London police have declared the crash a major incident and closed the area to normal traffic.
People had been attending prayers in the area as part of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
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.
— With Reuters and the Associated Press.