LONDON – At least one person is dead, and eight are in hospital after a van slammed into crowds of pedestrians in Finsbury Park, north London, just after midnight on Monday morning local time.
A 48-year-old male suspect was arrested at the scene, according to London Metropolitan police, who said the investigating into the incident was ongoing.
A vehicle hit pedestrians in London and there are “a number of casualties being worked on at the scene,” according to authorities.
London’s Metropolitan Police said officers were called just after midnight Sunday to an incident on Seven Sisters Road. “There has been one person arrested. Inquiries continue. More information will be released when confirmed,” police said.
London Ambulance tweeted: “We have sent a number of resources to an incident in Seven Sisters Road. More information will follow when we have it.”
Transport for London tweeted that Seven Sisters Road was closed northbound at Hornsey Road and southbound at Rock Street.
CNN national terror analyst Peter Bergen said the neighborhood has a large Muslim population and the nearby mosque has a notorious reputation as a place where Islamist militants used to gather.
“If you were interested in targeting a group of Muslims at a mosque that was notorious, this would be the mosque you would do it at. I think it’s significant that they had the reputation historically of being one of the most militant mosques in London. And that reputation may be more historical than current,” he said.
Bergen added: “Ramadan, particularly in a country like the UK, where the days are very long in June, you know you’re fasting from dawn to dusk and you’re breaking the fast at night. … Night comes pretty late in London this time of year. It wouldn’t be odd that you would have large numbers of people breaking their fasts and praying at this time.”
The Muslim Council of Britain tweeted, “We have been informed that a van has run over worshipers as they left #FinsburyPark Mosque. Our prayers are with the victims.”
Resident Cynthia Vanzella said she was in bed when she heard people shouting. Vanzella said she went to the window and saw “loads of people gathering” in a corner across the road from her window.
“They were very nervous, shouting very loud, trying desperately to make some signs to a police car that was just passing the road,” she told CNN.
“I saw so many of them crying, screaming, trying to get the police and the ambulance,” she said.
She added: “I saw a lot of people injured. They were helping on the pavement and trying to help them to get to the scene.”
Vanzella said she saw police put a man into a police car and take him away, but she didn’t see them arrest him.
Another witness, Hillary Briffa, said: “People were shouting this is an act of terrorism, even though he’s white. These were the kinds of comments people were yelling out.”
She added: “Everybody was clamoring around and shouting at the man.”