A 48-year-old driver was arrested after his vehicle “swerved” into a group tending to a sick man near a Finsbury Park mosque, killing at least one and hurting eight people more in London, police said.
The vehicle struck pedestrians along Seven Sisters Road in Finsbury Park around 12:15 a.m. Monday local time, according to London’s Metropolitan Police.
One man died at the crash site and eight people were rushed to three local hospitals. Two more people were treated at the scene for minor injuries, police and London Ambulance Service officials said.
The Muslim Council Of Britain said the van hit worshippers helping a man who collapsed outside the Muslim Welfare House, within 600 feet of the Finsbury Park Mosque, after a Ramadan prayer.
“At that moment in time, basically a van swerved into them deliberately,” said the council’s assistant secretary general, Miqdaad Versi, citing witnesses.
Police said several witnesses held down the driver while waiting for authorities. One of those witnesses told Buzzfeed that the apprehended driver shouted, “I want to kill all Muslims.”
Another witness claims the driver said nothing. Police did not immediately corroborate either account.
“It was not an accident, I saw everything,” Boubou Sougou told the Guardian. “People were badly injured. The van driver tried to escape but people grabbed him. He did not say anything.”
A woman on Twitter said she heard “loads of screaming” following the crash.
“Horrible to watch police officers doing cardiac massage at people on the floor, desperately trying to save them,” wrote Cynthia Vanzella, while watching first responders flock to the crash site. “I just hope they did.”
Police did not immediately elaborate on what prompted the Finsbury Park wreck.
Prime Minister Theresa May said the crash was being investigated as a potential terror attack while London Mayor Sadiq Khan later said the crash was a “horrific terrorist attack.”
“We don’t yet know the full details, but this was clearly a deliberate attack on innocent Londoners, many of whom were finishing prayers during the holy month of Ramadan,” Khan said.
“While this appears to be an attack on a particular community, like the terrible attacks in Manchester, Westminster and London Bridge it is also an assault on all our shared values of tolerance, freedom and respect,” the mayor added.
“I’m totally shocked at the incident at Finsbury Park tonight,” Labor Party leader Jeremy Corbyn said in a statement. “I’ve been in touch with the mosques, police and Islington council regarding the incident. My thoughts are with those and the community affected by this awful event.”
The crash comes as Muslims celebrate the holy month of Ramadan, which ends June 24.
London continues to reel from tragedy, including two terrorist attacks in June and March.
On June 3, eight people were killed and 50 wounded after three terrorists rammed a rented van into a group of pedestrians on the London Bridge, before unleashing a knife attack at a nearby market.
Another man killed five people, including a police officer, on March 22, during a similar van and knife assault on the Westminster Bridge.
Most recently, the Grenfell Tower blaze last week was feared to have killed at least 70 people trapped inside the apartment building.
With News Wire Services