At least one person was dead and eight others injured on Monday after a van mowed down worshippers leaving a mosque in London’s Finsbury Park. One person has been arrested so far after the incident at Seven Sisters Road. The driver, 48, of the van was first detained by the members of the public, then arrested by the police. After describing it as a “major incident”, the police are currently investigating if it was an act of terror. British Prime Minister Theresa May has informed that the incident is being treated as a potential terrorist attack by the police. She is also going to chair an emergency response meeting later in the morning.
After commending the emergency services, London Mayor Sadiq Khan said, “I have been in contact with the Met Commissioner and senior officers and am being kept updated on all developments. I have also spoken with community organisations in the area, local MP Jeremy Corbyn and leader of the council Richard Watts.”
Reacting to the incident, the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), UK’ largest 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.”
The Metropolitan Police were called in just after 12:20 am (Local time) to the accident site on Seven Sisters Road, where van rammed into pedestrians. Many of the victims were leaving late night prayers after breaking their Ramadan fast.
One eyewitness, as cited by BBC, said, “There was this white van stopped outside Finsbury Park Mosque that seems to have hit people who were coming out of the mosque after prayers finished.”
The witnesses have described the van swerving towards people, reported Guardian describing the nature of the collision.
London Ambulance Service tweeted: “We have sent a number of ambulance crews, advance paramedics and specialist responses teams to the scene.”
We have sent a number of resources to an incident in Seven Sisters Road. More information will follow when we have it.
— London Ambulance (@Ldn_Ambulance) June 18, 2017
Theresa May said that her thoughts were with all those injured. “This is a terrible incident,” May said in an emailed statement. “All my thoughts are with those who have been injured, their loved ones, and the emergency services on the scene.”
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said on Twitter that he was “totally shocked” after the incident. Saying that he is in touch with the mosques, police and Islington Council, he said, “My thoughts are with those and the community affected by the awful event.”
I’m totally shocked at the incident at Finsbury Park tonight. pic.twitter.com/1ffKijNs73
— Jeremy Corbyn (@jeremycorbyn) June 19, 2017
Earlier Mayor Sadiq Khan tweeted: “Emergency services are on the scene and investigating a major incident at Finsbury Park.”
— Mayor of London (@MayorofLondon) June 19, 2017
British counter-terrorism police have joined regular police officers investigating the incident at a north London mosque, the Guardian newspaper reported.
Describing the attack “cowardly”, the chairman of the Finsbury Park Mosque said, “Our thoughts and prayers with those who got injured.”
Muslim Council of Britain has put out a statement saying the van driver intentionally “ploughed” into worshippers outside Finsbury Park mosque. The statement described the incident as a “violent manifestation of Islamophobia”.
Neil Basu, Deputy Assistant Commissioner, said that were no other suspects at the moment and no knife stabbing has been reported. Metropolitan Police officials said the incident is being treated as a terrorist attack, adding that the motive of the attack is still not clear but police are keeping an open mind.