UK Prime Minister Theresa May described an attack on a north London mosque attack as a “sickening” attempt to destroy liberties that unite Britain, such as freedom of worship.
May says the man who plowed a van into a crowd of people leaving evening prayers acted alone and that people outside the mosque apprehended him.
Ten people were injured and police are investigating whether a man who died while being given first aid at the scene died from the attack or something else.
May praised the resolve of the people of London in responding to the incident and said extra police resources have already been deployed to assure the public in a time of tension.
Police said the Counter Terrorism Command was investigating the crash. Britain’s terrorist alert has been set at “severe” meaning an attack is highly likely.
Hate crime against Muslims rising
British security officials report that hate crimes directed at Muslims have increased nearly five-fold in the wake of several attacks in Britain blamed on Islamic extremists.
An official said Monday that counterterrorism officials were closely monitoring terror activity linked to far-right groups but most of the recent attacks have been traced back to individuals rather than groups.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak about the ongoing investigation into an attack on worshippers outside a mosque in London. Ten people were injured when a 48-year-old white man plowed a van into a crowd of people leaving evening prayers. Police say they’re treating it as a terrorist incident.
In the past three months, mosques across Britain have reported several attacks against worshippers and places of worship.
Mosque attendees in shock
The chairman of the Finsbury Park Mosque says the van crash that hit worshippers was a “cowardly attack” and urged Muslims going to mosques to be vigilant.
Mohammed Kozbar said the attack early Monday morning was no different than the recent attacks on London Bridge and Manchester Arena and said the Muslim community is “in shock.”
Kozbar complained that the “mainstream media” was unwilling to call the attack a terrorist incident for many hours.
A leader of the Muslim Council of Britain has called for extra security at mosques after a van struck worshippers leaving prayers at the Finsbury Park mosque.
The group’s general secretary, Harun Khan, said that eyewitnesses saw the van driver hit a number of Muslims.
“During the night, ordinary British citizens were set upon while they were going about their lives, completing their night worship. It appears from eyewitness accounts that the perpetrator was motivated by Islamophobia,” he said.