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Finsbury Park Attack: One dead as 'van hits mosque worshippers'

Sky News logo Sky News 19/06/2017

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Related video: Man arrested as van hits mosque crowd (Provided by PA)

A van has hit and injured worshippers as they left a Muslim welfare centre in north London.

One man died but police said it was unclear whether his death happened as a result of the attack.

Forensic investigators work the scene in the Finsbury Park area of north London after a vehichle hit pedestrians, on June 19, 2017. © Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP Forensic investigators work the scene in the Finsbury Park area of north London after a vehichle hit pedestrians, on June 19, 2017.

Eight people were taken to hospital following the collision in Finsbury Park, police said.

A further two people were treated at the scene, where a 48-year-old man who had been held by members of the public was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder.

© PA

He was taken to hospital as a precaution and will undergo a mental health assessment.

According to a witness who asked to be called Abdulrahman - not his real name - the driver of the van said: "I want to kill Muslims."

The scene at Whadcoat Street. Pic: Cynthia Vanzella © Sky News Screen Grab The scene at Whadcoat Street. Pic: Cynthia Vanzella

Another witness, Adil Rana, 24, said: "The van was driving towards us to try and basically hit us at speed.

"When he got arrested, he was taunting, saying, 'I'd do it again, I'd do it again'."

Police officers attend to the scene after a vehicle collided with pedestrians in the Finsbury Park neighbourhood of North London, Britain June 19, 2017. © Reuters Police officers attend to the scene after a vehicle collided with pedestrians in the Finsbury Park neighbourhood of North London, Britain June 19, 2017. Pictures of the van indicated it was rented from a company in South Wales, Pontyclun Van Hire.

It happened outside Finsbury Park's Muslim Welfare House, not far from the Finsbury Park Mosque.

© Reuters Chief executive of the Muslim Welfare House, Toufik Kacimi, said the arrested man had to be rescued by the imam at the centre to stop him being attacked.

Mr Kacimi said when he did so, the driver said to him: "I've done my bit."

Police officers attend to the scene after a vehicle collided with pedestrians in the Finsbury Park neighbourhood of North London, Britain June 19, 2017. © Reuters Police officers attend to the scene after a vehicle collided with pedestrians in the Finsbury Park neighbourhood of North London, Britain June 19, 2017.

The Metropolitan Police's Deputy Assistant Commissioner, Neil Basu, said: "This is being treated as a terrorist attack and the Counter Terrorism Command is investigating.

"From 00:21hrs this morning police received a number calls to Seven Sisters Road.

"Officers were in the immediate vicinity as the attack unfolded and responded instantly. Additional officers arrived within 10 minutes."

Related gallery: A vehicle hits worshippers leaving a London mosque

A man looks at messages and tributes left near to where a van was driven at Muslims in Finsbury Park, North London, Britain, June 19, 2017. London van crash

DAC Basu added: "I would like to thank those people who helped police in detaining the man and worked with officers to calmly and quickly get him into our custody.

"Their restraint in the circumstances was commendable." 

© Reuters

Theresa May has chaired a meeting of the COBRA emergency committee.

Speaking afterwards in Downing Street, the Prime Minister said: "It is a reminder that terrorism, extremism and hatred take many forms, and our determination to tackle them must be the same whoever is responsible." 

Police at Seven Sisters Road. Pic: @Thomasvanhulle © PA Police at Seven Sisters Road. Pic: @Thomasvanhulle

Outside the police cordon in north London, Communities Secretary Sajid Javid comforted a woman who was visibly shaking.

Mr Javid said: "I want to reassure both the local Muslim community, but also Muslims across the United Kingdom, that they will always have the full support of this government in fighting anti-Muslim hate crime."

© Reuters

London Mayor Sadiq Khan said: "All of these are attacks on our shared values of freedom, of tolerance and of respect… and terrorism is terrorism, whether someone's inspired by an Islamist narrative or other forms of 'inspiration'."

Officers were called at 12.20am to Seven Sisters Road © Getty Officers were called at 12.20am to Seven Sisters Road

The Muslim Council of Britain's (MCB) general secretary Harun Khan said: "It appears from eyewitness accounts that the perpetrator was motivated by Islamophobia.

"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."

© Reuters

Asked about mosque security, Home Secretary Amber Rudd told Sky News: "We have a places of worship fund, which we announced last summer.

One person has been arrested, police say. Pic: @Thomasvanhulle © PA One person has been arrested, police say. Pic: @Thomasvanhulle "We have made available two-and-a-half million pounds. I recently announced who would be getting those additional funds, which included 12 mosques, and actually I have repoened it recently to make sure that any additional place of worship that feels the need can apply for extra security."

© PA © Reuters

Transport for London says Seven Sisters Road has been closed northbound between Hornsey Road and Rock Street.

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