LONDON: A van ran into pedestrians near a north London mosque, killing one man and injuring eight others in an incident that police on Monday said was being investigated by counter-terrorism officers.
The 48-year-old driver of the van was detained by members of the public and then arrested by police, as Muslim leaders said worshippers were specifically targeted after leaving prayers at the mosque shortly after midnight.
The incident comes after two deadly Islamist-inspired attacks this year that used vehicles to ram pedestrians — a stabbing spree earlier this month in the London Bridge area and a March attack in which a man drove a car into crowds on Westminster Bridge.
“One man was pronounced dead at the scene… Eight people injured were taken to three separate hospitals,” police said in a statement, adding that two other people were treated for minor injuries.
Eyewitness Abdiqadir Warra told AFP: “He just drove at people. Some of them he took a few metres (along the road).”
David Robinson, 41, who arrived just after the accident, said: “We saw lots of people shouting and lots of people injured”.
Amateur video footage seen by AFP showed three people lying on the ground, including one who was receiving mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.
Police said the driver had also been taken to hospital and would receive a mental health assessment.
“Due to the nature of this incident, extra policing resources have been deployed in order to reassure communities, especially those observing Ramadan,” the police statement concluded.
The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), an umbrella body for British Muslims, said the incident occurred outside the Muslim Welfare House on Seven Sisters Road, near the Finsbury Park mosque.
Harun Khan, the head of the MCB, said the van had “intentionally” run over people who were leaving prayers held during the holy month of Ramadan.
Prime Minister Theresa May condemned it as a “terrible incident”, while opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said he was “totally shocked” and had been in touch with mosques and police.
The area is in Corbyn’s Islington North constituency.
A helicopter hovered overhead and several emergency vehicles blocked a section of Seven Sisters Road, a busy thoroughfare where the incident happened.
Police, including armed officers, could be seen manning a wide cordon around the area. Others searched the area with sniffer dogs.
A group of Muslim men were praying on the pavement nearby. Traffic was shut down along a one-kilometre section of the road.