Update: One person was dead as a result of what the police called a terrorist attack, but police said it was too early to say if it was a result of the attack. Eight people were rushed to hospitals and two were treated at the scene.
A 48-year-old man suspected of being the driver was held down by members of the public at the scene and was been arrested on suspicion of attempted murder, the Metropolitan Police said in a statement. He was transported to a hospital as a precaution and will be taken into custody, police said. There were conflicting witness accounts of the number of assailants, but police said there are no other suspects at this point.
Witnesses cited by the WSJ said the driver appeared to deliberately steer a white van into the crowd after Ramadan prayers in the Finsbury Park neighborhood not long after midnight. The man jumped out of the van and bystanders grabbed him and held him down as he shouted anti-Muslim obscenities, they said.
“We saw a van was driving very fast, so we thought at the beginning he wanted to catch the traffic light,” said Saaeed Hashi, a 28-year-old who said he witnessed the attack. “But he didn’t. He hit a woman first and then two men. He carried on, and another three, or four, or five.”
Hashi said he and five others pinned the alleged attacker to the ground after he jumped out of the van. The man screamed obscenities about Muslim people as he tried to escape. Hashi said the alleged attacker, a muscular man with a tattoo, bruised him and ripped his white T-shirt.
The Muslim Council of Britain said that the attack appeared to be motivated by Islamophobia.
“We urge calm as the investigation establishes the full facts, and in these last days of Ramadan, pray for those affected and for justice,” Harun Khan, the organization’s secretary-general said in a statement.
On Monday morning, Neil Basu, deputy assistant commissioner of London’s police and senior national coordinator for counter terrorism, said the incident was being treated as a terrorist attack but that “no matter what his motivation proves to be, we are keeping an open mind.” He said it was too early to say if the one death was “as a result of this attack.” The attack unfolded while the man who died was already receiving first aid from the public at the scene.
Extra police would be deployed around London, especially to protect Muslims, he said. Security in the city has already been bolstered after a series of attacks, including two vehicle attacks, which have rattled the U.K.
Just over two weeks ago, three assailants mowed down people on London Bridge before stabbing people with knives, leaving a total of eight people dead. In March, an attacker used a vehicle to hit pedestrians outside the British Parliament, killing five.
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A van plowed into pedestrians on Seven Sisters road in the Finsbury Park area in north London just after 12:20am London Time, in what the police has described a "major incident." There are "a number of casualties being worked on at the scene," London police said in a statement, with at least 10 people injured according to press reports.
The incident happened near the prominent Finsbury Park Mosque as witnesses claim the driver intentionally struck the victims; a male driver, who has not been identified, has been taken into police custody while the van appears to be rented. LBC radio adds that there has been a "huge emergency response" and ambulances have been dispatched to help the injured.
One witness told Sky News that the incident happened after worshippers were leaving the Finsbury Park mosque after midnight prayers.
Eyewitnesses reported seeing bystanders wrestle the suspect to the ground and pin him down until officers arrived.
According to the Telegraph, pictures posted on social media show more than a dozen emergency vehicles near the UKCG Help Centre at the junction of Seven Sisters Road and the A503 Tollington Road.
UK: London's Finsbury Park terror scene after police arrest van driver | June 19 2017 pic.twitter.com/kUKRJBLIId— redball (@redball2) June 19, 2017
So far, the incident is not being called a terrorist attacks, as a person has been arrested unlike previous incidents.
One eyewitness speaking to LBC said the van had hit people on the pavement, but had not collided with a building. "It looked like he had lost control of the van or something," he said. Locals said they had heard shouting and a helicopter was circling overhead.
Another caller told LBC her sister was at the scene when it happened. She said she described it as "something from a horror movie, everyone running everywhere".
Some social media reports describe the attack as "Islamophobic", and described the attack as a van "randomly swerving off the main road and running over several Muslim men."
Islamaphobic attack in finsbury park right now. A van randomly swerved off the main road and ran over several muslim men. pic.twitter.com/FM2RP0Fd4d— ???? (@__ABDULQAADIR) June 19, 2017
The U.K. Muslim Council of Britain said they had been told worshippers were ran over as they left a local mosque. "Our prayers are with the victims," they said on Twitter.
The van used tonight at Finsbury Park mosque is shown below
Here's the van used tonight at Finsbury Park mosque pic.twitter.com/p5Oi39VZrT— Tommy Robinson ???????? (@TRobinsonNewEra) June 19, 2017
One caller told LBC said people from a local mosque had been drinking coffee at a cafe by the mosque. He said he had seen six people on the floor. Another caller said: "I saw police giving CPR, getting the heart going again and another guy on the floor."
There was no immediate word on an exact number of victims according to LBC, whose live broadcast can be heard here.
According to the Guardian, Al Qaeda operatives including the “shoebomber” Richard Reid and Zacarias Moussaoui attended the Finsbury Park mosque. In 2002, weapons training had taken place inside the building. The mosque rose to notoriety when Abu Hamza al-Masri became Imam of the Mosque due to his extremist ideologies and views on terrorism.