International

May vows crackdown after van hits Muslims near London mosque

LONDON: British Prime Minister Theresa May vowed Monday to fight extremism in all its forms after a white driver ploughed his van into a crowd of Muslims near a mosque.

It was the fourth terror strike in a tumultuous four months in Britain.

Ten people were injured in the attack which took place early Monday after evening prayers in Finsbury Park, north London.

One elderly man, who had collapsed just before the incident, was pronounced dead at the scene, but it is not yet known whether his death was directly linked to the attack.

May condemned the assault as “sickening”, saying Britain’s determination to fight “terrorism, extremism and hatred… must be the same, whoever is responsible”.

The 47-year-old van driver was pinned down by people at the scene before being detained by police.

He was later arrested on suspicion of “the commission, preparation or instigation of terrorism including murder and attempted murder”, the police said.

The Finsbury Park Mosque said the van “deliberately mowed down Muslim men and women leaving late evening prayers” at the mosque and the nearby Muslim Welfare House shortly after midnight.

Security Minister Ben Wallace told BBC radio that the suspect was “not known to us”.

Stepped up police presence 

London police chief Cressida Dick said the incident was “quite clearly an attack on Muslims” and promised a stepped-up police the presence near mosques as the holy month of Ramadan draws to a close.

Witness Abdiqadir Warra told AFP the van “drove at people” and that some of the victims were carried for several metres along the road.

“He was shouting: ‘I want to kill all Muslims’,” another witness, Khalid Amin, told BBC television.

Ten people were hurt, all Muslims, with eight requiring hospital treatment. Two were in a very serious condition, police said.

One Algerian man was among those injured, the north African country said.

Locals pinned down the driver and the imam of the Muslim Welfare House stepped in to stop him receiving a mob beating.

France and Germany quickly condemned the attack and Egypt’s Al-Azhar institution, the leading authority in Sunni Islam, condemned it as “sinful”.

“Al-Azhar affirms its total rejection of this terrorist, racist, sinful act, calling on Western countries to take all precautionary measures to limit the phenomenon of Islamophobia,” it said in a statement.

US President Donald Trump’s daughter Ivanka expressed solidarity with the worshippers in a tweet but her father has so far not commented.

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