A van ploughed into worshippers leaving a London mosque on Monday, killing at least one person and injuring several in what A largest Muslim organization said was a deliberate act of Islamophobia.
The vehicle hit people as they were leaving the Finsbury Park Mosque, one of the biggest in the country, the Muslim Council of Britain said. The attack comes during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, when people attend prayers at night.
British Prime Minister Theresa May said police had confirmed it was being treated as a potential terrorist attack and said she would chair an emergency response meeting later on Monday.
“All my thoughts are with the victims, their families and the emergency services on the scene,” she said.
Police said one man was pronounced dead at the scene and that the van driver, 48, had been detained by members of the public before being arrested. The driver would undergo a mental health assessment in due course, police said.
The London Ambulance Service said it had taken eight people to hospital, while two were treated at the scene.
The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said extra police had been deployed to reassure communities, especially those observing Ramadan, describing the attack as “an assault on all our shared values of tolerance, freedom and respect”.
The leader of the opposition Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, said he was “totally shocked”.
The incident comes just over two weeks after three Islamist militants drove into pedestrians on London Bridge and stabbed people at nearby restaurants and bars, killing eight..
The Muslim Council said Monday’s attack was the most violent manifestation of Islamophobia in Britain in recent months and called for extra security at places of worship.
“It appears that a white man in a van intentionally ploughed into a group of worshippers who were already tending to someone who had been taken ill,” the council said in a statement.
Police said they were called just after 12:20 a.m. (2320 GMT Sunday) to reports of a collision on Seven Sisters Road, which runs through the Finsbury Park area of north London.
“From the window, I started hearing a lot of yelling and screeching, a lot of chaos outside. … Everybody was shouting: ‘A van’s hit people, a van’s hit people’,” one woman who lives opposite the scene told the BBC.