LONDON — A van slammed into worshippers near a mosque in London early Monday, killing one person and injuring 10 other people in what witnesses described as a deliberate attack on Muslims and that British Prime Minister Theresa May said police were investigating as a potential terrorist incident.
Police arrested a 48-year-old man suspected of driving the van into a group of people as they left the Finsbury Park Mosque in north London shortly after midnight. He was arrested after being detained by members of the public, the Metropolitan Police said.
The incident comes during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan and follows three attacks in Britain in as many months. Police said Monday’s incident had all the “hallmarks” of terrorism, although stopped short of formally calling it that.
The van’s driver was arrested on suspicion of murder. Police said all the victims were members of the Muslim community. The suspect’s identity was not released.
Eyewitness Abdul Rahman told the BBC that the driver of the van said that he wanted to “kill all Muslims.” Rahman told the British broadcaster that he hit the suspect and helped subdue him. “I hit him on his stomach … and then me and the other guys … we held him to the ground until he couldn’t move. We stopped him until the police came.”
Harun Khan, a leader of the Muslim Council of Britain, described the incident as a hate crime against Muslims and called for extra security around mosques.
“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 Mayor Sadiq Khan, the first Muslim to serve in that position, said that “while this appears to be an attack on a particular community, like the terrible attacks in Manchester, Westminster and London Bridge it is also an assault on all our shared values of tolerance, freedom and respect.”
Police Commissioner Cressida Dick called for calm and attempted to reassure members of the public. “Extra officers are on duty in the area to help reassure the local community. They will be there for as long as they are needed. Communities will see additional officers patrolling across the city and at Muslim places of worship.”
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Article Courtesy of WKYC Channel 3 News Cleveland
Picture Courtesy of Anadolu Agency and Getty Images