London Vehicle Collision Near Mosque: 1 Arrest, Multiple Casualties

Police officers attend to the scene after a vehicle collided with pedestrians in the Finsbury Park neighborhood of North London after midnight on June 19, local time. Neil Hall/REUTERS

Updated | One person is dead and eight people are hospitalized after a van collided with pedestrians in a largely Muslim area of London early Monday local time. The police called the collision "a major incident" and said it had caused "a number of casualties."

The incident occurred on Seven Sisters Road in the Finsbury Park section of north London. Police closed the street and the transportation authority issued a traffic advisory.

London's Metropolitan Police said it had arrested one person and that an individual died at the scene. The London Ambulance Service said it took the eight people to three London hospitals. Two people were treated at the scene for injuries. The London Fire Brigade also said it was on the scene.

Police have not released the identity of the driver of the van. But in a statement Monday morning, police said the person was a 48-year-old man and that members of the public detained him at the scene until police arrived. The driver was taken to a hospital as a precaution and will receive a mental health assessment, police added.

In the statement, police did not say they are treating the incident as a terror attack, but they said the Counter Terrorism Command, a special operations branch within the Metropolitan Police, is investigating.

The incident occurred near the Finsbury Park Mosque and the Muslim Welfare House, a mosque and community center, according to the Muslim Council of Britain. The Muslim Council had initially tweeted, "We have been informed that a van has run over worshippers as they left #FinsburyPark Mosque," but the council later said the incident had happened farther away from that mosque.

In a statement later on Monday morning local time, Harun Khan, secretary general of the Muslim Council, characterized the collision as likely an anti-Islam incident. "During the night, ordinary British citizens were set upon while they were going about their lives, completing their night worship," the statement said. "It appears from eye witness accounts that the perpetrator was motivated by Islamophobia."

On Sunday, the Finsbury Park Mosque had held a Taraweeh (also spelled tarawih) prayer service, which is part of Ramadan. In a Facebook post hours before the vehicle collision, the mosque wrote about the June 2016 murder of politician Jo Cox by a nationalist extremist. "Since that time we have witnessed other attacks from another type of extremists!!" the post said. "Both extremists do not represent us, do not represent our communities, do not represent our faiths!! They are tiny minority, a bunch of murderers who only represent hatred, division and racism." The post continued to say that communities must stand up to extremist and racism.

While the exact nature of the van collision was not immediately clear, London is reeling from two recent attacks that the government labeled terrorism, on March 22 and June 3, and a fire last Wednesday at Grenfell Tower that killed at least 58 people. Outside of London, an additional attack in Manchester on May 22 killed more than 20 people, and the country went through a tumultuous election on June 8.

This article has been updated to include a statement by Harun Khan of the Muslim Council of Britain. It was later updated again to include new information from the London Ambulance Service and the Metropolitan Police.