British Prime Minister Theresa May said an incident which left one dead and 10 others injured near a London mosque was being treated by police as a potential terrorist attack.
Police officers attend to the scene after a vehicle collided with pedestrians in the Finsbury Park neighbourhood of North London June 19, 2017.
Europol announced Monday that the weeklong operation last month by law enforcement and other agencies from 26 countries led to 133 people being detained or arrested on suspicion of human trafficking or illegal immigration, while intelligence gathered has sparked 44 new investigations. Police have not released his identity. The London Ambulance Service says the injured are being taken to hospitals.
Police said the Counter Terrorism Command was investigating the crash. Muslim leaders called it a hate crime and asked the public to stay calm. Police said earlier that one person was arrested. “Terrorists will not succeed in their attempts to divide us and make us live in fear”.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan, the first Muslim to serve in that position, urged residents to focus on their shared values and to stand together during this an unprecedented period in the capital’s history.
“While this appears to be an attack on a particular community, like the bad attacks in Manchester, Westminster and London Bridge, it is also an assault on all our shared values of tolerance, freedom and respect”, Khan said. “I would urge everyone to remain calm and vigilant”, Basu said.
One witness described being surrounded by bodies in the wake of the attack outside the Muslim Welfare House, close to Finsbury Park mosque.
May says the man who plowed a van into a crowd of people leaving evening prayers acted alone and that people outside the mosque apprehended him.
“He was shouting: “All Muslims, I want to kill all Muslims”, another witness, Khalid Amin, told BBC television.
“He wanted to run away and was saying ‘I want to kill Muslims’”.
At one time it was associated with extremism, due to its links with Egyptian-born radical cleric Abu Hamza al-Masri in the early 2000s.
After meeting faith leaders at Finsbury Park Mosque on Monday afternoon, she said: “The awful terrorist attack which took place last night was an evil borne out of hatred and it has devastated a community”.
“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”.
If confirmed by authorities as terrorism, this would be the fourth such attack in Britain since March and the third to involve a vehicle driven at pedestrians.
Local police agree and told CNN, “This was a direct attack on Muslims”.
Police and community leaders have praised those who restrained the van driver and stopped others from attacking him before police arrived.