Police investigate van attack near London mosque as terrorism
A police officer stands on duty near tributes and flowers at a police cordon in the Finsbury Park area of north London following a vehicle attack on pedestrians. One person died and 10 people were injured when a van drove into a crowd of Muslim worshippers near a mosque in London in the early hours of Monday.(Isabel Infantes / AFP/Getty Images)
British forensic experts in Finsbury Park are shown next a forensic tent and a van that hit worshippers who were gathered near a north London mosque.(Facundo Arrizabalaga / EPA)
British Prime Minister Theresa May leaves Finsbury Park mosque on Friday in north London after speaking with religious leaders.(Sean Dempsey / EPA)
A man walks past floral tributes outside Finsbury Park Mosque in north London.(Tolga Akmen / AFP/Getty Images)
Mohammed Mahmoud, center, an Imam at Finsbury Park Mosque, gives a statement to the media at a police cordon in the Finsbury Park area of north London.(Isabel Infantes / AFP/Getty Images)
Local residents react to the scene at the Finsbury Park area of north London after a man drove a van into worshipers who were gathered near a mosque in the early hours of Monday.(Tolga Akmen / AFP/Getty Images)
Police officers guard a cordon at Finsbury Park in north London where a vehicle struck worshipers of a nearby mosque.(Victoria Jones / Associated Press)
People scuffle near a police cordon at Finsbury Park after a van struck worshipers of a nearby mosque early Monday.(Facundo Arrizabalaga / EPA)
Muslims pray on a sidewalk in the Finsbury Park area of north London near the scene of a van attack on worshipers of a nearby mosque.(Daniel Leal-Olivas / AFP/Getty Images)
In an attack that British Muslims say was aimed directly at them, a man plowed a van into a crowd of Muslim worshipers outside a north London mosque early Monday, injuring 10 people. London police are investigating it as a terrorist incident.
Police said another man died at the scene, although he was receiving first aid at the time and it wasn’t clear if he died as a result of the attack or something else.
British Prime Minister Theresa May condemned the attack “on innocent people” and declared that Britain would stop at nothing to defeat extremism.
“Hatred and evil of this kind will never succeed,” she said in a televised statement.
Police said the 48-year-old white man who was driving the van that hit those leaving evening prayers at the Finsbury Park Mosque has been arrested on suspicion of attempted murder. Police have not released his identity. He has been taken to a hospital as a precaution.
Metropolitan Police Deputy Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu said police are investigating whether the death of the man getting first aid was a direct result of the attack, but it was too early to say for sure.
The crash occurred at a time when the multiethnic neighborhood was crowded with Muslims leaving the mosque after Ramadan prayers. Muslim leaders called it a hate crime and asked the public to stay calm.
Police said the driver was detained by the crowd until police arrived.
The crash occurred shortly after midnight, when police received reports of a collision between a van and pedestrians. Police said eight of the injured were hospitalized; the other two had minor injuries and were treated at the scene.
Eyewitnesses reported seeing police give emergency heart massage to at least one of the injured.
A leader of the Muslim Council of Britain called for extra security at mosques in light of the apparent attack. The group’s general secretary, Harun Khan, described the incident as a hate crime against Muslims.
“During the night, ordinary British citizens were set upon while they were going about their lives, completing their night worship,” he said. “It appears from eyewitness accounts that the perpetrator was motivated by Islamophobia.”
London police — already stretched by a series of tragedies including a June 14 high-rise apartment fire in which 79 people are presumed dead and a June 3 terror attack near London Bridge that killed seven people — said they are putting more officers on the street to reassure the public. Muslim leaders called for calm.