London: British Prime Minister Theresa May said an incident in which a van ploughed through pedestrians near a mosque in north London on Monday was being treated “as a potential terrorist attack”.
“I will chair an emergency meeting later this morning. All my thoughts are with the victims, their families and the emergency services on the scene,” she said in a statement on Monday.
One man was killed and ten people were hospitalised due to the incident that is being investigated by counter-terrorism officers, police said on Monday.
The 48-year-old male driver of the van “was found detained by members of the public at the scene and then arrested by police,” a police statement said.
Police said in a statement there were “a number of casualties”, adding that they were called to reports of “a vehicle in collision with pedestrians” at 00:20 am (2320 GMT).
“We have been informed that a van has run over worshippers as they left #FinsburyPark Mosque. Our prayers are with the victims,” the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), an umbrella body, said on Twitter.
Harun Khan, the head of the MCB, said the van had “intentionally” run over people leaving night prayers for the holy month of Ramadan.
An AFP reporter could see a helicopter and many emergency vehicles at the scene, which was closed off by a large police cordon. Traffic was shut down on a section of Seven Sisters Road, where the incident happened.
“We saw lots of people shouting and lots of people injured,” David Robinson, 41, who arrived just after the accident, told AFP.
The London Ambulance Service said it had sent “a number of resources” to the scene.
The mosque is near Seven Sisters Road and was once a notorious hub for radical Islamists but has entirely changed under new management. Its former imam Abu Hamza was jailed for life in New York on terrorism charges in 2015.
He preached there from 1997 to 2003 before being jailed for inciting violence. He was later extradited to the United States.
In 2015, the mosque was one of around 20 that took part in an open day organised by the MCB to promote better understanding of Islam following Islamist-inspired attacks in Paris.
Despite the change in leadership and new focus on community relations, the mosque received a string of threatening emails and letters in the wake of the Paris attacks.