National News

One dead in London mosque attack

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Local people observe prayers at Finsbury Park in north London, where one person has been arrested after a vehicle struck pedestrians, leaving "a number of casualties".. Picture date: Monday, June 19, 2017. Photo credit: Yui Mok/PA Wire

A van has ploughed into worshippers leaving a London mosque, killing at least one person and injuring several in what Britain's largest Muslim organisation says was a deliberate act of Islamophobia.

The Muslim Council of Britain said the vehicle hit people as they were leaving the Finsbury Park Mosque, one of the biggest in the country. The attack comes during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, when people attend prayers at night.

British Prime Minister Theresa May said police had confirmed it was being treated as a potential terrorist attack and that she would chair an emergency response meeting later on Monday.

Police said one man was pronounced dead at the scene and that the van driver, 48, had been detained by members of the public before being arrested. The driver would undergo a mental health assessment , police said.

The London Ambulance Service said it had taken eight people to hospital, while two were treated at the scene.

Prime Minister 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 Muslim Council said the incident was the most violent manifestation of Islamophobia in Britain in recent months and called for extra security at places of worship as the end of Ramadan nears.

"It appears that a white man in a van intentionally ploughed into a group of worshippers who were already tending to someone who had been taken ill," the council said in a statement.

Police said they were called just after 12.20 am on Monday to reports of a collision on Seven Sisters Road, which runs through the Finsbury Park area of north London.

"From the window, I started hearing a lot of yelling and screeching, a lot of chaos outside. ... Everybody was shouting: 'A van's hit people, a van's hit people'," one woman who lives opposite the scene told the BBC.

The incident comes just over two weeks after three Islamist militants drove into pedestrians on London Bridge and stabbed people at nearby restaurants and bars, killing eight.

One witness told CNN it was clear that the attacker at Finsbury Park had deliberately targeted Muslims.

"He tried to kill a lot of people so obviously it's a terrorist attack. He targeted Muslims this time," the witness, identified only as Rayan, said.

The Finsbury Park Mosque gained notoriety more than a decade ago for sermons by radical cleric Abu Hamza al-Masri, who was sentenced to life in a US prison in January 2015 for his conviction on terrorism-related charges.

Reuters

© RAW 2017