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London attacker motivated by Islamophobia

WHAT WE KNOW SO FAR

  • Just after midnight a van left the road and struck pedestrians
  • Two people are now feared dead
  • The crash occurred outside the Finsbury Park Mosque in London.
  • It is unclear if the crash was deliberate. One man has been arrested
  • There are fears the van driver targeted Muslims leaving the mosque

UPDATE: THE attacker 'laughed' as he was arrested by police officers after his hired van 'intentionally' swerved into a crowd of pedestrians outside London's Finsbury Park Mosque.

Metropolitan Police have confirmed one man has died and London Ambulance says it has conveyed eight injured to hospital.

London Metropolitan Police's Deputy Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu tonight said all the victims were Muslim and two of the eight injured have been seriously hurt.

He said that attack unfolded whilst a man was receiving first aid from the public at the scene. He died.

"Any causative link between his death and the attack will form part of our investigation. It is too early to state if his death was as a result of the attack," Basu said.

He confirmed the man acted alone and the crime is being investigated as a terrorist incident and the counter terrorist division was called in.

 

"Our thoughts are with all those affected by the incident at Seven Sisters Road and their family, friends and their communities," Basu said.

"No matter what the motivation proves to be, and we are keeping an open mind, this is being treated as a terrorist attack and the Counter Terrorism Command is investigating.

"This was an attack on London and all Londoners and we should all stand together against extremists whatever their cause."Muslim man Rabie Rafa, 42, said of the attacker: "He just laughed .

"They just killed people and he laughed.

"He had just ran people over up the sidewalk and killed innocent people.

"It was horrible to witness."

London police say a 48-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of attempted murder after the incident, which caused "a number of casualties" just after midnight (9am AEST).

"At this early stage of this investigation, no other suspects at the scene have been identified or reported to police, however the investigation continues," the police statement reads.

The suspect was taken to a hospital as a precaution. He will be given a mental health evaluation.

The alleged attacker was detained by members of the public before police arrived.

"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," Basu said.

"Their restraint in the circumstances was commendable."

A leader of the Muslim Council of Britain called for extra security at mosques in light of the apparent attack. The group's general secretary, Harun Khan, described the incident as a hate crime against Muslims.

"During the night, ordinary British citizens were set upon while they were going about their lives, completing their night worship," he said. "It appears from eyewitness accounts that the perpetrator was motivated by Islamophobia."

EARLIER: AN attacker 'laughed' as he was arrested by police officers after a van 'intentionally' swerved into a crowd of pedestrians near London's Finsbury Park Mosque.

Metropolitan Police have confirmed one person has died and London Ambulance says it has conveyed eight injured to hospital.

Muslim man Rabie Rafa, 42, said: "He just laughed .

"They just killed people and he laughed.

"He had just ran people over up the sidewalk and killed innocent people.

"It was horrible to witness."

London police say one 48-year-old man has been detained after the incident, which caused "a number of casualties" just after midnight (9am AEST). The Counter Terrorism Command are investigating.

"At this early stage of this investigation, no other suspects at the scene have been identified or reported to police, however the investigation continues," the police statement reads.

The London Ambulance Service says it has transported eight people to hospital, and treated 'a number' of patients at the scene for minor injuries.

Eyewitness Zakriya James, 24, said he believed there may have been four attackers in what appears to have been a rented white delivery van. Three got away.

The local said the van "ploughed" into people as they exited the mosque.

"The van just came through as people were walking towards where it was coming from," he said.

"They didn't realise what was going on at first. People just started running.

"As far as I know there were four white males and three got away.

"It probably is a retaliation. People were coming out of their prayer. That says something."

Reports suggest up to 10 people were hurt. The Sun reported that two are feared dead.

Prime Minister Theresa May has described the attack on worshippers as a "terrible incident".

"All my thoughts are with those who have been injured, their loved ones and the emergency services on the scene," she said.

 

EARLIER: TWO people are feared dead and several injured after a van reportedly rammed into pedestrians in a "terrorist attack" outside a mosque in north London.

One man was arrested after witnesses said the van deliberately accelerated into a crowd of Muslim worshippers on Seven Sisters Road in Finsbury Park.

London's Evening Standard reports the van driver was armed with a knife and jumped out of the vehicle and stabbed one person. Others said there were three white men in the van and two escaped.

An eyewitness told Buzzfeed News he and his friends pinned the man down after he exited the van screaming, "Kill all Muslims!" and "kill me, kill me".

The witness said the van "went all over us" but he managed to get out of the way and they held the man down until police arrived.

Metropolitan Police arrived shortly after 12.20am local time and a helicopter circled overhead as emergency services treated people on the street and took them away on stretchers.

 

The vehicle mowed down around ten people on the street outside the Muslim Welfare House and near Finsbury Park Mosque, which had both just finished daily prayer service Isha, which starts at around 10.45pm.

"Police were called just after 00.20 to reports of a vehicle in collision with pedestrians," police said in a statement. "Officers are on scene with other emergency services.

"There are a number of casualties being worked on at the scene. There has been one person arrested."

Onlookers wrote on Twitter that more than 10 people had been knocked over and armed police were at the scene. Injured pedestrians were taken away on stretchers as the road was filled with police, emergency services and bystanders, including many Muslim worshippers who had just left the mosque.

Mohammed Kozbar, chairman of Finsbury Park Mosque, told The Sun: "Whoever did this, he did it to hurt people and it's a terrorist attack.

"We call it a terrorist attack as we called it in Manchester, Westminster and London Bridge."

A spokesman from Finsbury Park Mosque on St Thomas's Road told news.com.au worshippers were leaving at the time of the incident "200 metres away", but he did not know if it was a targeted attack.

London Ambulance Service Director of Operations Kevin Bate said: "We were called at 12.15am to reports of a road traffic collision at Seven Sisters Road.

"We have sent a number of ambulance crews, advance paramedics and specialist response teams to the scene. An advance trauma team from London's Air Ambulance had also been dispatched by car."

Footage posted on social media showed a distressed looking white male believed to be the driver being held by police just after 1am.The Muslim Muslim Association of Britain tweeted: "Tragic to hear of attack against worshippers at Finsbury Park. Our thoughts are will those injured in the attack. We condemn this heinous attack on Muslim worshippers, and we call on the authorities to act promptly to capture the perpetrators."

The Muslim Welfare House, situated right by the scene on Seven Sisters Road, tweeted: "A van hits pedestrians 5 minutes from us. Police & ambulance at the scene."

The Muslim Council added: "Our prayers are with the victims."

Eyewitnesses told LBC radio that the van approached "slowly and intentionally accelerated into crowded cafe outside a mosque".

Finsbury Park overground rail station and the busy Seven Sisters Road have been closed off.

"All I can hear is sirens and helicopters," tweeted Lauren French.

Ali Habib said he was on the scene and that a friend "doesn't know if his family are safe at the moment."

Nearby resident Cynthia Vanzella said she could hear screaming, tweeting: "Horrible to watch police officers doing cardiac massage at people on the floor, desperately trying to save them. I just hope they did."

A witness told Sky News: "It was really, really ugly. I could see at least two people on the floor not moving."The vehicle appears to have been a hire car from Pontyclun Van Hire, based near Cardiff in Wales.

Finsbury Park Mosque has been at the centre of controversy in the past.

Radical cleric Abu Hamza al-Masri was barred from the north London place of worship after years of struggle and police closed it down in January 2003 amid a major al-Qaeda associated investigation, the BBC reports.

In 2003, the mosque was raided by the police and shut down before it was reclaimed in 2005 by the local Muslim community and transformed with the help of the Muslim Association of Britain.

In November 2015, the Metropolitan Police said they were treating as a hate crime an attempted arson attack on the mosque. Police released CCTV footage showing a suspect throwing over the railings what police said was a can filled with petrol.

More to come.

EARLIER: A VAN has ploughed over pedestrians in north London, causing "a number of casualties", according to authorities.

Reports suggest up to 10 people have been hurt near a mosque at Finsbury Park when a motorist struck them just after midnight (9am AEST).

Up to 100 hundred people are gathered outside the cordoned off zone which is blocking the mosque, with tensions high after the incident.

TERROR: Australian vehicle-borne attack concern 

 

JUMP TO SECTION:


A group of men huddled together to condemn the "terror attack" outside the mosque, where people had been engaging in Ramadan.

"This is a terror attack!" a man shouted.

One person has been arrested.

There is a massive police response on the scene with riot vans, armed personnel and a helicopter.

 

News Corp Australia

A man, who asked not to be named, said his uncle had been hit by the van.

"I have not heard from him but my friend told me he'd been hurt," he told News Corp.

"The van just drove up and hit them out of nowhere.

"They didn't see it coming.

"They knew there would be people there.

"They were white extremists."

The city is on edge after the London Bridge terror attack on June 3, where three Islamic terrorists killed eight people, including two Australians.
 

The killers mowed down pedestrians on the famous bridge before going on a stabbing frenzy at nearby Borough Market.

On March 22, Briton Kahlid Masood ran over pedestrians on Westminster Bridge killing four people and injuring 50.

The current attack has happened only four days after the city suffered a horrific fire at Grenfell Tower in west London, which took more than 58 lives.


DETAILS EMERGE

Metropolitan Police said officers were called just after midnight on Sunday to an incident on Seven Sisters Road.

"Officers are on the scene with other emergency services," he said. "There are a number of casualties being worked on at the scene. There has been one person arrested. Enquiries continue."

London Ambulance reported it has sent 'a number' of resources to the Seven Sisters Road 'incident'.
 


It is understood that the pedestrians were hit outside a local Muslim welfare house.

Unconfirmed reports from the scene suggest that up to four people may have been killed.

Photos purporting to show the white van used in the attack show it was rented from a company in Wales.

The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), an umbrella body, said on Twitter: "We have been informed that a van has run over worshippers as they left #FinsburyPark Mosque. Our prayers are with the victims.

Harun Khan, the general secretary of the MCB, tweeted that the van had "intentionally" run over people leaving night prayers held during the holy month of Ramadan.

Khan said he was "shocked and outraged to hear a van has intentionally run over worshippers leaving Ramadan prayers".
 

Crowds gather outside the scene where a van collided with pedestrians in London.
Crowds gather outside the scene where a van collided with pedestrians in London. Lexie Cartwright

 

WITNESS ACCOUNTS

Eyewitnesses have told LBC radio that the van approached "slowly and intentionally accelerated into crowded cafe outside a mosque".

Another witness told the station: "I saw police giving CPR, getting the heart going again and another guy on the floor."

He said people had been drinking coffee at a nearby cafe after leaving the mosque after Tarawih prayers performed for the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

The holiest month of the Islamic calendar, Ramadan will finish this coming Saturday, June 24.

Another caller told LBC her sister was at the scene when the incident happened.

The woman said her sister described it as "something from a horror movie, everyone running everywhere".

She didn't realise what was going until she saw people on the ground.
 

Eyewitnesses reported seeing bystanders wrestle a suspect to the floor and pin him down until officers arrived.

Mohammed Kozbar, chairman of Finsbury Park mosque, told The Sun: "Whoever did this, he did it to hurt people and it's a terrorist attack.

"We call it a terrorist attack as we called it in Manchester, Westminster and London Bridge. The van drove over people who were leaving late prayers. They were gathering in Seven Sisters Road.

"I heard there are fatalities but I don't want to jump to conclusions. My concern now is the casualties who have been affected."

 

MOSQUE'S RADICAL HISTORY

Finsbury Park Mosque has been known to have served as a clearing house for radical Muslims after cleric Abu Hamza arrived as imam in 1997.

Al Qaeda operatives including "shoebomber" Richard Reid and Zacarias Moussaoui attended the mosque.

In 2003 the Mosque was raided by the police and shut down. It was then reclaimed in 2005 by the local Muslim community with the help of the Muslim Association of Britain (MAB).

Hamza, known as the Hook Hand, is an Egyptian cleric who preached Islamic fundamentalism and militant Islamism from the London mosque until he was arrested in 2004 after a US request to extradite him to face terrorism charges.
 

He was later charged by British authorities with 16 offences for inciting violence and racial hatred. In 2006, a British court found him guilty of inciting violence, and sentenced him to seven years' imprisonment.

On 5 October 2012, after an eight-year legal battle, he was extradited from the UK to the US to face terrorism charges and on 14 April 2014 his trial began in New York.

On 19 May 2014, Hamza was found guilty of eleven terrorism charges by a federal jury in Manhattan. On 9 January 2015, he was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.


BRITAIN'S MONTH OF HORROR

Britain has been shaken by a string of horrific incidents - four of them in the past month, most terror-related and all but one in the capital, London.

 

Westminster Terror Attack

March 22, 2017: Islamist Briton Khalid Masood, 52, runs down pedestrians on Westminster Bridge in a car, then charges on foot towards the Houses of Parliament, fatally stabbing a police officer before being shot dead. Five victims are killed and more than 50 injured.

 

Manchester Arena Bombing

May 22, 2017: British Muslim Salman Ramadan Abedi, 22, detonates a suicide bomb at Manchester Arena following a gig by Ariana Grande. It kills 22 people, mainly youngsters, and injures 119.

 

London Bridge Rampage

June 3, 2017: Three Islamists - Khuram Shazad Butt, Rachid Redouane and Youssef Zaghba - drive into pedestrians on London Bridge then run amok in the nearby Borough Market area in fake suicide bomb vests, stabbing people at random before police fatally shoot all three. Eight innocents die, including two Australians, and 48 are injured.

 

Grenfell Tower Fire

June 14, 2017: Although not a terror attack, this horror shakes Britain to the core. A raging fire at a tower block in west London leaves 30 confirmed dead with 28 missing and presumed dead.

Metropolitan Police arrived shortly after 12.20am local time and a helicopter circled overhead as emergency services treated people on the street and took them away on stretchers.

The vehicle mowed down around ten people on the street outside the Muslim Welfare House and near Finsbury Park Mosque, which had both just finished daily prayer service Isha, which starts at around 10.45pm.

"Police were called just after 00.20 to reports of a vehicle in collision with pedestrians," police said in a statement. "Officers are on scene with other emergency services.

"There are a number of casualties being worked on at the scene. There has been one person arrested."

News Corp Australia

Topics:  editors picks general-seniors-news london attack


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