London mosque van attack a 'sickening terrorist' act - Theresa May

  • 20/06/2017

British Prime Minister Theresa May says an incident in which a van ploughed into worshippers near a London mosque, injuring 10 people, two of them seriously, is a sickening, terrorist attack on Muslims.

The vehicle swerved into a group of people shortly after midnight on Monday as they left prayers at the Muslim Welfare House and the nearby Finsbury Park Mosque in north London.

Attacker named

The driver has been named as Darren Osborne - a 48-year-old father of four from Wales. He was grabbed at the scene by locals and pinned down until police arrived. He was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder.

After being seized, Osborne said he had wanted to kill "many Muslim people," one witness told journalists.

Osborne is now being held on suspicion of terror offences including murder and attempted murder.

Attacker's mother: 'I'm not going to defend him'

His mother Christine has spoken of her shock, and says she found out about her son's arrest on TV.

In tears, speaking to ITV, she said: "Oh God... you just can't imagine.

"I'm not going to defend him, but he's my son and it's a terrible, terrible shock.

"It's not just robbing a bank, it's an atrocity. And at this moment in time, I can't cope with it, I can't. I don't want to say anything more."

Ms Osborne said her son had never shown extremist views or behaviour.

She described him as a "complex" person, and said she last saw him a month ago.

Prime Minister visits mosque

A man, who had earlier suffered a heart attack, died at the scene but it was not clear if his death was connected to the van 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," Ms May told reporters outside her Downing Street office.

"This was an attack on Muslims near their place of worship," said Ms May who later visited the mosque.

The mosques' worshippers, mainly from North and West Africa, had just left prayers during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Usain Ali, 28, said he heard a bang and ran for his life.

"When I looked back, I thought it was a car accident, but people were shouting, screaming and I realised this was a man choosing to terrorise people who are praying," he told Reuters.

Another witness Yann Bouhllissa, 38, said he had been tending an old man who had suffered a heart attack when the van was driven at them.

"One guy caught the guy and brought him down," Mr Bouhllissa told Reuters. "When he was on the floor, the guy asked 'why do you do that?'. He said 'Because I want to kill many Muslim people'."

Victims protect attacker from angry bystanders as police arrive

Mohammed Mahmoud, the imam from the Muslim Welfare House, stepped in to ensure the van driver was not hurt until he was bundled into a police van.

"We found that a group of people quickly started to collect around him ... and some tried to hit him either with kicks or punches. By God's grace we managed to surround him and to protect him from any harm," Mr Mahmoud told reporters.

In addition to the man who died, 10 people were injured, with eight taken to hospital, two in a very serious condition, police said.

Security Minister Ben Wallace said the driver was "not known to the authorities in the space of extremism or far-right extremism".

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

A suicide bombing at a pop concert in Manchester, northern England, in May also killed 22 people, while in March, a man drove a rented car into pedestrians on Westminster Bridge in London and stabbed a policeman to death before being shot dead. Five people were killed in that attack.

Police have said hate crimes rose after the London Bridge attack and more officers would be deployed to provide reassurance to mosques.

Reuters