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London Police say Van Attack 'Clearly' Aimed at Muslims

  • VOA Staff

A forensic tent and police are seen on Seven Sisters Road looking to Finsbury Park Mosque after a vehicle struck pedestrians in north London, June 19, 2017.

A van collided with pedestrians outside a London mosque early Monday, injuring 10 people in what the city's police commander said was "quite clearly an attack on Muslims".

“We have a number of people in hospital whose lives are turned upside down," Met Police Commissioner Cressida Dick told reporters Monday. "We treat this as a terrorist attack and we, in the Met, are as shocked as anybody in this local community or across the country, at what has happened.”

London Mayor Sadiq Khan called the incident "a truly horrific terrorist attack on our city" and Prime Minister Theresa May said it was "an attack on Muslims near their place of worship."

Finsbury Park Mosque, London
Finsbury Park Mosque, London

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu, the senior national coordinator for counter terrorism, clarified to reporters Monday that a man pronounced dead at the scene in northern London had already been receiving medical aid as the attack happened and that it was too early to tell if his death was related.

Authorities said officers arrested the 48-year-old driver of the van, who had been detained by members of the public at the scene.

Basu said it appeared the man was the sole attacker. He praised those who detained him, calling their restraint "commendable."

"What it proves to me is that Londoners will act together to protect themselves, but they will do so in a way that doesn't feed into terrorists' and extremists' hands," Basu said.

He added that the 10 people injured were from the Muslim community, and that investigators are "keeping an open mind" about the motive for the attack.

Harun Khan, secretary-general of the Muslim Council of Britain, said that based on accounts from witnesses the driver was "motivated by Islamophobia."

Police officers man on Fonthill road near Finsbury Park station after a vehicle struck pedestrians in north London, June 19, 2017.
Police officers man on Fonthill road near Finsbury Park station after a vehicle struck pedestrians in north London, June 19, 2017.

"Given we are approaching the end of the month of Ramadan and the celebration of Eid with many Muslims going to local mosques, we expect the authorities to increase security outside mosques as a matter of urgency," Khan said in a statement.

A Metropolitan Police statement said that due to the nature of the attack, "extra policing resources have been deployed in order to reassure communities, especially those observing Ramadan."

Britain, especially London, has been on edge over several recent incidents, including last month's terror bombing in Manchester and the recent vehicle attack and stabbings near London Bridge.

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