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5TH LEAD Policing increased after van ploughs into crowd near London mosque By Bill Smith, dpa

Europe
19.06.2017
By our dpa-correspondent and Europe Online    auf Facebook posten  Auf Twitter posten  
London (dpa) - Britain deployed additional police near mosques on Monday after a van ploughed into Muslim worshippers in north London‘s Finsbury Park area, injuring 10 people, in an incident being treated as a terrorist attack.

A man who died in the incident, after his legs were trapped under the van, had been sitting on the pavement while he was receiving first aid before the attack, police said.

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick said "people in the Muslim community, attending prayers, will see their police protecting them in coming days."

Speaking alongside Dick in Finsbury Park, London mayor Sadiq Khan said police officers would be called back from leave to boost numbers in areas with large Muslim communities.

Prime Minister Theresa May and opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn made separate visits to Finsbury Park Mosque, close to the site of the attack, in which a man drove a rented van into pedestrians who had just finished evening prayers.

"The terrible terrorist attack which took place last night was an evil born out of hatred and it has devastated a community," May told reporters as she left the mosque.

"I am pleased to have been here today to see the strength of that community coming together, all faiths united in one desire to see extremism and hatred of all sorts driven out of our society," she said.

The police said they arrested the driver - a 48-year-old man described as white, who is believed to have acted alone - on suspicion of attempted murder.

"All the victims were from the Muslim community," Deputy Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu told reporters earlier.

Eight injured people were treated in hospital, and two others were treated at the scene, he said.

The attack had "all the hallmarks of a terrorist incident," Basu said.

Mohammed Kozbar, the chairman of the mosque, condemned the "cowardly attack which is no different than the [terrorist] attacks in Manchester and London."

"Our community is in shock, our thoughts and prayer with those who have been effected by this," Kozbar said in a statement on Facebook.

Witnesses described how the van veered off the road into a crowd of people leaving the area following late-night prayers.

After the suspect jumped out of the van, he shouted "I wanna kill all Muslims," the BBC quoted witness Khalid Amin as saying.

Condemning the attack, the Muslim Council of Britain had called for security at mosques to be increased.

"It appears from eyewitness accounts that the perpetrator was motivated by Islamophobia," the council‘s secretary general Harun Khan said in a statement.

The council also clarified that the incident took place outside the Muslim Welfare House, 300 metres away from the mosque.

Video footage showed injured people lying on the ground and angry crowds surrounding a man believed to be the driver, according to The Independent.

An imam told British media he had protected the suspect from an angry crowd until police arrived to arrest him.

The suspect "was very quickly and calmly given over to the police," Basu said, as he praised the community for their bravery.

It shows that "Londoners will act together to protect themselves, and will do so in a way that doesn‘t feed into terrorists‘ hands."

The incident comes towards the end of Ramadan, the holiest time of year for Muslims.

Britain‘s terrorist alert level is currently at "severe," the second-highest level, meaning an attack is highly likely.

Earlier this month, three men who pledged allegiance to the Islamic State terrorist group, rammed a van into pedestrians on London Bridge before stabbing passers-by, killing eight.

The Finsbury Park Mosque had previously been associated with hate preacher Abu Hamza and a number of terrorists including "shoe-bomber" Richard Reid, who attempted to detonate explosives on a flight from Paris to Miami in 2001.

 

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