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Man dies after van ploughs into mosque worshippers in Finsbury Park

Driver of the van, 48, has been arrested by police

19 June, 2017 — By Emily Finch, Koos Couvée

Officers at the scene in Seven Sisters Road

A MAN has died and 10 people have been injured after a man drove a van into worshippers outside a mosque in Finsbury Park.

The van mounted the pavement and struck a group of people just after midnight near the Muslim Welfare House in Seven Sisters Road. A 48-year-old man has been arrested.

Prime Minister Theresa May said police were treating it “as a potential terrorist attack”.

One witness, who gave his name as Athmane, 31, said: “I saw an attack, a crazy suspect who crashed [into] everyone with his van, it was a mini lorry.

“I was in [Finsbury Park] mosque when the attack happened. We just finished my prayer, we had to go home, prepare ourselves for the fasting and then after he attacked a bunch of people coming out of the other mosque.

“I heard people shouting and screaming. It was just like a disaster, like a bomb coming from the sky. You saw a dead body, people injured.”

Many of the victims had just left evening prayers at the Muslim Welfare House after breaking the Ramadan fast.

Eight people injured were taken to three separate hospitals, while two others were treated at the scene for minor injuries.

Abdul Abdullahi, 18, from Finsbury Park, said: “I saw very horrific scenes, people [hurt] I just seen two or three minutes ago. There was a guy on the floor, a very old man. Emergency services hadn’t really arrived yet, there was a couple of police there.

“A man looked unconscious, they were trying to resuscitate him, there were other people no one was really attending to. There was a guy bleeding from the head who was vomiting, there was an old lady holding another guy. ”

The suspect was overpowered by members of the public before he was arrested. He has been taken to hospital.

The driver of the van – a 48-year-old man – was found detained by members of public at the scene and was arrested by police.

He has been taken to hospital as a precaution, and will be taken into custody once discharged, the Met said.

There are no reports of any persons having suffered any knife injuries.

Muna Mohamed speaks to press outside the mosque in Seven Sisters Road

Muna Mohamed, 32, who has lived in Finsbury Park for 12 years, said she did not feel safe following the attack.

“Me and my sons don’t feel safe, we haven’t slept yet.” she said. “I’m scared because where we’re walking is where they killed the people, where am I going to walk? I came here from Somalia [as a refugee] to feel safe but I don’t feel safe.”

Ms Mohamed said a 80-year-old female family friend was injured in the attack, while her friend Ali has a broken back and legs and was taken to Whittington Hospital in Archway.

The attack comes a year after pig remains were thrown over the gate of the nearby Finsbury Park Mosque in a suspected Islamophobic attack. A bag containing pork sausages and meat remains was found in the grounds of the building in St Thomas’s Road.

And in November 2015 a man set alight a jerry can of petrol and threw it over the gates of the mosque but it did not catch light. No one has yet been caught for the failed arson attempt.

Counter-terrorism officers are currently at the scene. London Mayor Sadiq Khan said extra police are being deployed to reassure communities, especially those observing Ramadan.

He has asked people to “remain calm and vigilant”, adding: “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.

“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.”

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who lives nearby and has just visited the scene, said he was “totally shocked” by the attack, adding he had been in touch with mosques in the area, as well as Town Hall chiefs.

He added: “I am shocked by this horrific and cruel attack in Finsbury Park, which is being treated as an act of terror.

“I offer my condolences to the family and friends of the man who has died, and our thoughts are with the people who have been injured, their family and friends.

“I call on everyone to stand together against those who seek to divide us.”

 

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