One man is dead and at least eight people are injured after an attack outside a north London mosque in which a van ploughed into pedestrians in the latest act of violence to hit the British capital.
A 48-year-old man has been arrested in relation to the rampage and taken to hospital, with the incident being investigated as a potential act of terrorism, according to police.
Police confirmed that, at this stage, there are no reports of anyone having suffered any knife injuries, despite earlier UK newspaper reports suggesting an attacker had wielded a knife.
UK Metropolitan Police confirmed “a number of casualties” including one man who died after being treated at the scene, when the van ploughed into worshippers just after they had left a mosque in London’s northern suburbs.
UK Prime Minister Theresa May condemned the attack, describing it as a “sickening” attempt to destroy liberties that unite Britain, such as freedom of worship.
“This was an attack on Muslims, near their place of worship,” she said outside Downing Street.
“Like all terrorism, in whatever form, it shares the same fundamental goal – it seeks to drive us apart and break the precious bonds of solidarity and citizenship that we share in this country.”
The London Ambulance Service sent 60 paramedics to the scene and dispatched an advance trauma team.
Two people were treated for minor injuries, while eight others have been transferred to three hospitals for further treatment.
Police were called to the scene at 12.20am local time and the Counter Terrorism Command arm of the police continues to investigate.
The Independent newspaper quoted witnesses who said the vehicle veered off the road into crowds near Finsbury Park Mosque, but it is unclear as to whether the collision was deliberate.
Meanwhile, the ABC has reported that an older man was seen collapsing outside a nearby cafe moments before the van appeared from around a corner and ploughed into the group that had gone to his aid.
Another witness, Abdulrahman Saleh Alamoudi, told BuzzFeed News the driver of the van screamed “I’m going to kill all Muslims”, before he was tackled to the floor.
Mr Alamoudi said he was among a group of witnesses who held the suspect on the ground for about half an hour before police arrived.
“This big van just came and went all over us,” he said.
“I think at least eight or 10 people got injured. Luckily I managed to escape. And then the guy came out of his van and I got him.
“Then we managed to get him on the floor. Then he was saying, ‘Kill me, kill me’. I said, ‘We are not going to kill you. Why did you do that?’ He wouldn’t say anything.”
— The Intel Crab (@IntelCrab) June 19, 2017
Video taken at the scene showed apparently injured people lying motionless on the ground, as angry crowds surrounded a man believed to be the driver.
Cynthia Vanzella said on Twitter: “Horrible to watch police officers doing cardiac massage at people on the floor, desperately trying to save them. I just hope they did.”
The Muslim Council of Britain confirmed mosque worshippers were among the injured.
“I saw at least two people being attended to on the ground. Shortly after police cordoned the area,” BBC producer Abdirahim Saeed tweeted from the scene.
“Others say they saw at least two other white men in the white van that rammed people. Confusion as to what happened to them. Ran away some say.”
Many witness accounts have indicated the van intentionally drove towards pedestrians on the footpath.
But police are yet to confirm claims that Muslims leaving the mosque after Tarawih prayers for the Islamic holy month of Ramadan were the target of the driver’s actions.
Police said the 48-year-old suspect will be taken into custody once discharged from hospital.
At this stage, no other suspects at the scene have been identified or reported to police.
Part of Seven Sisters Road has been closed as the operation continues.
The rampage comes weeks after three Islamic State-inspired attackers rammed a van into pedestrians on London Bridge before rampaging through Borough Market with knives, killing eight people before being shot dead by police.
The nearby Finsbury Park Mosque has been linked to Islamic extremism in the past, having been associated with radical Islamic cleric Abu Hamza.
The mosque was raided by police and shut down in 2003 before reopening in 2005 under new management.
However, it was still uncertain whether worshippers had come from this mosque, or a smaller one nearby.
In a statement released on Facebook, London Mayor Sadiq Khan described the incident as a “deliberate, horrific terrorist attack on innocent people”.