by Aysha Qamar
“I want to kill all Muslims” Witnesses say they heard the driver shout, as a van rammed into pedestrians in a diverse neighborhood in north London.
Witnesses said the vehicle veered off the road into worshippers leaving prayers in Finsbury Park shortly after midnight.
“From the window, I started hearing a lot of yelling and screeching, a lot of chaos outside,” a woman living across the scene told the British Broadcasting Corporation.
“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.”
According to witnesses, members of the public managed to restrain the driver after he left the van.
Footage has confirmed this showing injured people motionless on the pavement with angry crowds surrounding a white man believed to be the driver.
One man has died with several more injured during this suspected terror attack following evening prayers at a nearby London mosque.
Counter-terror police are investigating the incident in Finsbury Park as a potential terrorist attack. Eight people have been taken to the hospital and the more were treated at the scene for minor injuries.
The lone suspect is in custody and has been identified as 48-year-old Darren Osborne from Cardiff, Wales area.
“The driver of the van – a man aged 48 – was found detained by members of public at the scene and then arrested by police in connection with the incident,” a spokesperson for the Metropolitan Police said.
“He has been taken to hospital as a precaution and will be taken into custody once discharged.”
The incident occurred near the Muslim Welfare House, a community center down the road from several local mosques, according to the U.K.’s Muslim Council.
Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick stated the attack was “quite clearly an attack on Muslims.”
Chief executive of the Ramadan Foundation Muslim organization, Mohammed Shafiq, stated the incident occurred as members of two mosques left Tarawih, late night prayers performed for the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.
“It happened outside the Muslim Welfare House but people were leaving Finsbury Park Mosque as well so there’s a lot of confusion at the moment,” Shafiq told The Independent.
“According to eyewitnesses it was a deliberate attack against innocent Muslims, and if that’s confirmed by authorities it should be classed as a terror attack, no doubt about that.”
Ambulances, advance paramedics, special response teams and an advance trauma crew were sent to the scene, according to London Ambulance Service’s deputy director of operations, Kevin Bate.
“Our priority is to assess the level and nature of injuries and ensure those in the most need are treated first and taken to hospital,” Bate said.
The incident reflects the growing fear within the community on the rise of Islamophobia, Miqdaad Versi, the assistant secretary-general of the Muslim Council told the Huffington Post.
“People are shocked. People are terrified,” Versi, who was not at the scene, went on. “It’s an important time. It’s the last 10 nights of Ramadan, and that’s why there are such big crowds.”
This attack is the latest in a series of incidents occurring in the United Kingdom involving vehicles hitting pedestrians.
Preciously, 4 people were killed and dozens were injured after a man drove his car into a crowd on Westminster Bridge and then stabbed a police officer, in March. A suicide bomber killed 22 people during a concert by Adriana Grande in the Manchester Arena, in May.
Three ISIS supporters rammed a van into pedestrians on the London Bridge before stabbing people in Borough Market, killing 8 people in June.
This incident has also been the third major incident in less than a month for London’s emergency services, following the London Bridge attack and Grenfell Tower disaster.
“This is a terrible incident,” British Prime Minister Theresa May said in a statement. “All my thoughts are with those who have been injured, their loved ones, and the emergency services on the scene.”
London Mayor Sadiq Khan has condemned the incident in a statement.
“We don’t yet know the full details, but this was clearly a deliberate attack on innocent Londoners, many of whom were finishing prayers during the holy month of Ramadan,” Khan wrote. “While this appears to be an attack on a particular community, like the terrible attacks in Manchester, Westminster and London Bridge, it is also an assault on all our shared values of tolerance, freedom, and respect.”
While the attack has not yet been classified as a terrorist attack or one of hate witnesses believe otherwise.
“One thing that is clear: This happened after night prayer that us Muslims pray during Ramadan,” a witness told Huffington Post. “It was clearly an act that was planned and an act that was done with full intention.”