Theresa May condemns “sickening” Finsbury Park mosque terror attack which leaves one dead and eight in hospital
- Credit: PA
Theresa May has condemned a terrorist attack on a group of worshippers near a mosque as 'every bit as sickening' as the recent atrocities in London and Manchester.
One man died as a van driver, described as a large white man, targeted pedestrians near the Finsbury Park Mosque in north London early on Monday.
Witnesses described hearing the man, who was detained by members of the public at the scene, shout: 'I'm going to kill Muslims.'
He is also alleged to have told the injured: 'You deserve it.'
Police and community leaders have praised those who restrained the van driver and stopped others from attacking him before police arrived and arrested him on suspicion of attempted murder.
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Imam Mohammed Mahmoud was hailed for his efforts to calm the chaotic situation in the aftermath of the attack and was said to have used his body to shield the suspected terrorist from the fury of onlookers.
Witnesses claimed the suspect was smiling and waving as he brought carnage to Seven Sisters Road.
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Officers were in the immediate vicinity as the attack unfolded and responded within one minute.
Police declared it a terrorist incident within eight minutes.
Speaking after she chaired a meeting of the Government's Cobra emergencies committee, the Prime Minister said the attack was 'every bit as insidious and destructive to our values and our way of life' as the recent string of terror attacks apparently motivated by Islamist extremism.
'We will stop at nothing to defeat it,' she added.
MORE: Man dies as van hits mosque crowd in LondonMetropolitan Police Deputy Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu said: 'This is being treated as a terrorist attack.'
He said eight people are in hospital and two others were treated at the scene.
All of the casualties were Muslims, he added.
The attacker, who is believed to have acted alone, struck as the area was busy with worshippers attending Ramadan night prayers at the mosque.
Mr Basu added: 'The attack unfolded whilst a man was receiving first aid from the public at the scene; sadly, he has 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.'
One witness described being surrounded by bodies in the wake of the attack outside the nearby Muslim Welfare House.
Another witness, who wanted to be identified as Abdulrahman, which is not his real name, told the Press Association: 'I managed to get the driver of the van.
'He wanted to run away and was saying: 'I want to kill Muslims.'
'So he came back to the main road and I managed to get him to the ground and me and some other guys managed to hold him until the police arrived.'
Abdulrahman claimed the driver said 'Kill me', as he was being held on the ground.
Mr Basu thanked members of the public who detained the man, saying 'their restraint in the circumstances was commendable'.
Communities and Local Government Secretary Sajid Javid visited the scene and condemned what he described as an attack on innocent people.
Mr Javid said: 'The perpetrator of this attack - and those terrible attacks that we saw recently in Manchester and London - their intention is to seek to divide society.
My message to them is that they will always, always fail.
'This Government will always take a zero-tolerance approach to hate crime - including anti-Muslim hate crime - wherever we find it.
'I want to reassure both the local Muslim community but also Muslims across the United Kingdom that they will always have the support of this Government in fighting anti-Muslim hate crime.'