LONDON: A van ploughed into worshippers near a London mosque in the early hours of Monday, killing one person and injuring 10 other people, two of them seriously, in what Prime Minister Theresa May said was a sickening, terrorist attack on Muslims.
The vehicle swerved into a group of mainly North and West African people shortly after midnight as they left prayers at the Muslim Welfare House and the nearby Finsbury Park Mosque in north London, one of the biggest in Britain.
The driver, a 48-year-old white man identified as Darren Osborne, was grabbed at the scene by locals and pinned down until police arrived. He was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder.
After being seized, the man said he had wanted to kill “many Muslim people”, a witness told journalists.
A man, who had earlier suffered a heart attack, died at the scene but it was not clear if his death was connected to the van attack.
“This morning, our country woke to news of another terrorist attack on the streets of our capital city: the second this month and every bit as sickening as those which have come before,” May told reporters outside her Downing Street office.
“This was an attack on Muslims near their place of worship,” said May who later visited the mosque.
The attack was the fourth since March in Britain and the third to involve a vehicle deliberately driven at pedestrians.
It came at a tumultuous time for the government with Britain starting complex divorce talks with the European Union and May negotiating with a small Northern Irish party to stay in power after losing her parliamentary majority in a snap election that backfired.
The mosques’ worshippers had just left special prayers during the holy month of Ramazan.
Usain Ali, 28, said he heard a bang and ran for his life. “When I looked back, I thought it was a car accident, but people were shouting, screaming and I realised this was a man choosing to terrorise people who are praying,” he told a news wire. “He chose exactly the time that people pray, and the mosque is too small and full, so some pray outside.”
Another witness, Yann Bouhllissa, 38, said he had been tending an old man who had suffered a heart attack when the van was driven at them.
Published in Daily Times, June 20th, 2017.