Witnesses said that the man who drove a van into people leaving a mosque in London shouted: “I’m going to kill all Muslims, I’m going to kill all Muslims.”
Shortly after midnight, the vehicle swerved into a group of people leaving prayers at the Muslim Welfare House and the nearby Finsbury Park Mosque in north London, one of the biggest in the country.
The driver, a 48-year-old white man, was grabbed at the scene by locals and pinned down until police arrived.
Abdulrahman Aidroos said he and his friends had been tending an old man who had suffered a heart attack when the van was driven at them.
“He was saying ‘I wanna kill more people, I wanna kill more Muslims’,” Aidroos told BBC TV. He said he had helped tackle and detain the driver while other witnesses said the imam had stepped in to ensure the man was not harmed.
“Their restraint in the circumstances was commendable,” saidNeil Basu, senior national co-ordinator for counter-terrorism policing. The man was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder and police said they believed he had acted alone.
“I would like to ... thank our imam, Mohammed Mahmoud, whose bravery and courage helped calm the immediate situation after the incident and prevented further injuries and potential loss of life,” said Toufik Kacimi, the chief executive of the Muslim Welfare House.
Police said 10 people were injured, with eight taken to hospital, two in a very serious condition.
The man who was being given first aid at the scene before the attack had died but it was not clear whether his death was directly linked.
UK Prime Minister Theresa May said the incident was being treated as a potential terrorist 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 is the fourth since March in Britain and the third to involve a vehicle deliberately driven at pedestrians.
It also comes 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 following a snap election.
- WATCH: Angry crowd holds down suspect after terror attack near London mosque
- 79 people presumed dead in Grenfell Tower fire in London
- Theresa May: Deadly London van incident is ‘potential terrorist attack’
- IN PICTURES: Muslims take to the streets to pray for London van attack victims
- Syrian family of London fire victim Mohammad Alhajali to come to the UK
- Syrian refugee among Arab victims of London fire
- At least 58 feared dead in London tower fire, PM May admits failings