LONDON – In an attack that British Muslims say was aimed directly at them, a man plowed a van into a crowd of Muslim worshippers outside a north London mosque early Monday, injuring 10 people.
“We found about 15 to 20 people on the scene tending to the injured, administering CPR on the brother who is now deceased, and three people restraining the assailant”, he said, adding “they couldn’t hold him down and push back the people trying to hit him, so we pushed those people back”.
The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) intially said worshippers were among the casualties.
A police officer stands on duty near tributes and flowers in Finsbury Park following a vehicle attack on Muslims leaving a mosque in the early hours of Monday after breaking their Ramadan fast.
Deputy Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu said: “Our thoughts are with all those affected by the incident at Seven Sisters Road and their families, friends and communities”.
There were furious shouts as he was put into the police van, with one man wading in with a kick.
“People who were inside saw the attacker was smiling, he was waving, he was happy”. One was detained and two left the scene, the witnesses said. Thank God I just moved to the side, I just jumped.
The attack occurred outside the Muslim Welfare House, a small mosque with about 200 congregants.
The suspect remains in custody at a London police station. It was a lot of police, a awful scenario really – I hope it will never happen again.
The site of the incident is close to another mosque near the Finsbury Park on the same road.
Its former imam Abu Hamza was jailed for life in NY on terrorism charges in 2015.
May’s confirmation that the assault on innocent civilians was terrorist in nature stood in stark contrast to the reticence officials in the United States have frequently shown about using that term to describe anti-Muslim violence perpetrated by far-right extremists.
Joined by Labour leader and local MP Jeremy Corbyn, he added: “An attack on one faith is an attack on all faiths and communities. The Muslim Community in this area is horrified at this incident and is concerned and shocked at the events”.
British security officials, speaking on condition of anonymity in line with official policy, said hate crimes directed at Muslims have increased almost five-fold in the wake of several attacks in Britain.
“We urge all to remain calm and do their utmost not to inflame an already volatile and distressing situation”, it said in a statement.
The attack bore numerous same hallmarks as the March 22 Westminster incident in which six people were killed when a vehicle driven by Khalid Masood ploughed through a crowd, many of them tourists.
One man was pronounced dead at the scene and eight others were taken to hospital.
“- On its Twitter account, the London’s Metropolitan Police said “#SevenSisters Rd #Finsburypark incident – At this early stage there are no other suspects, however the investigation continues”.
On his Facebook page, Khan at the time called on Londoners “to pull together, and send a clear message around the world that our city will never be divided by these disgusting individuals who seek to harm us and destroy our way of life”.