Updated at 9:45pm – 6/18/2017
LONDON — A vehicle hit pedestrians in London and there are “a number of casualties being worked on at the scene,” according to authorities.
London’s Metropolitan Police said officers were called just after midnight Sunday to an incident on Seven Sisters Road. The scene of the crash is close to two mosques, the Finsbury Park Mosque and the Muslim Welfare House.
One woman who lives opposite the scene told the BBC:
“From the window, I started hearing a lot of yelling and screeching, a lot of chaos outside. Everybody was shouting: ‘A van’s hit people, a van’s hit people’.
“There was this white van stopped outside Finsbury Park mosque that seemed to have hit people who were coming out after prayers had finished. I didn’t see the attacker himself, although he seems to have been arrested, but I did see the van.”
Eyewitnesses reported seeing bystanders wrestle the suspect to the ground and pin him down until officers arrived. “There has been one person arrested. Inquiries continue. More information will be released when confirmed,” police said.
Witnesses reported seeing six people on the ground after the van ploughed into worshippers who had been attending evening prayers.
London Ambulance tweeted: “We have sent a number of resources to an incident in Seven Sisters Road. More information will follow when we have it.”
Harun Khan, Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain, said: “Shocked and outraged to hear a van has intentionally run over worshippers leaving Ramadan night prayers.”
Unconfirmed reports stated that former EDL leader Tommy Robinson was condemned for “attempting to justify” the attack by accusing the mosque of past links with extremists. CNN terror analyst Peter Bergen said the neighborhood has a large Muslim population and a nearby mosque has a notorious reputation as a place where Islamist militants used to gather.
Police have not yet commented on the claims that Muslims were targeted after leaving a mosque following Tarawih prayers performed for the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.
Given recent events in the UK, terrorism is a possibility, but no details have been released thus far to indicate whether it was an intentional act of terrorism, by Muslims or against Muslims, or merely a tragic accident. Officers are investigating whether the collision was accidental or deliberate and it has been reported that, in the crash’s initial aftermath, armed officers were deployed as a precaution.
One eyewitness claimed that the van had hit people on the pavement, but had not collided with a building. “It looked like he had lost control of the van or something,” he said.
This incident follows a series of attacks in Britain.
- Eight people were killed and 50 injured on June 3 when three Islamist militants drove into pedestrians on London Bridge and stabbed people at nearby restaurants and bars.
- Two weeks earlier, a suicide bomber killed 22 people at a concert by American pop singer Ariana Grande in Manchester in northern England.
- On March 22, a man drove a rented car into pedestrians on Westminster Bridge in London and stabbed a policeman to death before being shot dead. His attack killed five people.
This is a developing story with few details available at this time. Check back for updates as information becomes available.