UK moves to ease tensions after van attack on London Muslims
LONDON (AP) — British authorities and Islamic leaders moved swiftly to ease concerns in the Muslim community after a man plowed his vehicle into a crowd of worshippers outside a north London mosque early Monday, injuring at least nine people.
One man died at the scene, although he had been receiving first aid at the time of the incident and it wasn’t clear if he died as a result of the attack or from something else.
Police are treating the incident as a terror attack. The chaos outside the Finsbury Park Mosque follows three Islamist-inspired attacks over the past three months that have triggered a surge in hate crimes around Britain.
The Metropolitan Police Service, already stretched by its investigations of the earlier attacks and a high-rise apartment fire that is believed to have killed 79 people, immediately announced it was putting extra patrols on the streets to protect the public.
Police will assess the security of mosques and provide any additional resources needed ahead of celebrations marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan, Prime Minister Theresa May announced.
“This was an attack on Muslims near their place of worship,” she said in a televised address. “And like all terrorism, in whatever form, it shares the same fundamental goal. It seeks to drive us apart — and to break the precious bonds of solidarity and citizenship that we share in this country. We will not let this happen.”
The attack occurred about 12:20 a.m. when a speeding van swerved into worshippers who were giving first aid to a man outside the mosque. That man later died.
Police said the 47-year-old white man who drove the van has been arrested on suspicion of the commission, preparation or instigation of terrorism, including murder and attempted murder. A mob surrounded the man and witnesses said the crowd began attacking him. A local imam, Mohammed Mahmoud, said he organized a group of people and shielded the man until police could take him away.
“By God’s grace, we were able to protect him from harm,” he said.