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1 Dead as Van Rams Worshipers Leaving London Mosque | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Police are seen near Finsbury Park after a van rammed ploughed into worshippers in North London, Britain June 19, 2017. REUTERS/Ritvik Carvalho

A van ploughed into worshipers leaving a north London mosque on Monday, killing at least one person and injuring eight others in what the Muslim Council of Britain said was a deliberate act of Islamophobia.

The vehicle hit people as they were leaving the Finsbury Park Mosque, one of the biggest in the country, the Muslim Council said. The attack comes during the holy month of Ramadan, when people attend prayers at night.

British Prime Minister Theresa May said police had confirmed it was being treated as a potential terrorist attack and said she would chair an emergency response meeting later on Monday.

“All my thoughts are with the victims, their families and the emergency services on the scene,” she said.

Police said one man was pronounced dead at the scene and that the van driver, 48, had been detained by members of the public before being arrested.

The driver would undergo a mental health assessment in due course, police said.

The London Ambulance Service said it had taken eight people to hospital, while two were treated at the scene.

The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said extra police had been deployed to reassure communities, especially those observing Ramadan, describing the attack as “an assault on all our shared values of tolerance, freedom and respect”.

The incident comes just over two weeks after three militants drove into pedestrians on London Bridge and stabbed people at nearby restaurants and bars, killing eight.

The Muslim Council said Monday’s attack was the most violent manifestation of Islamophobia in Britain in recent months and called for extra security at places of worship.

“It appears that a white man in a van intentionally ploughed into a group of worshipers who were already tending to someone who had been taken ill,” the council said in a statement.

The council tweeted that its prayers were with the victims.