By SEWELL CHAN and ILIANA MAGRA
LONDON – A vehicle drove into pedestrians early Monday in London.
The Metropolitan Police called it “a major incident” and said a number of casualties were being treated at the scene. At least three or four people were injured, according to eyewitnesses who spoke to the BBC.
One person has been arrested.
The incident, which police were called to at 12:20 a.m., occurred on Seven Sisters Road in Finsbury Park, a neighborhood where many immigrants live.
Several reports on social media, which could not be immediately confirmed, said a van had crashed into pedestrians leaving the Muslim Welfare House, which offers karate and football classes and serves as a community center.
“Our prayers and thoughts with those injured outside Muslim Welfare House in Seven Sisters road hit by a van mounting pavement,” MEND, a nonprofit organization that fights Islamophobia and encourages British Muslims to get more involved in media and politics, wrote on Twitter.
The welfare center is also close to the Finsbury Park Mosque, which opened in 1994 and became a hotbed of Islamist militants, including Zacarias Moussaoui, a Frenchman convicted of conspiring to kill Americans as part of the Sept. 11 attacks, and Richard C. Reid, who attempted to down a U.S. jetliner in late 2001 with explosives packed in his shoes. In 2015, the mosque’s former imam, Mostafa Kamel Mostafa, was sentenced to life in prison in U.S. District Court in Manhattan on 11 terrorism-related charges.
The mosque was raided by authorities in January 2003, and in February 2005, it was completely reconstituted – “run by a new board of trustees with a new management team, new imams, a new name and new ethos,” according to its website. Five stories tall, with enough space for 1,800 worshippers, it is a major house of worship for North London, in an area known for a large immigrant population.
Mohammed Kozbar, chairman of the Finsbury Park Mosque, said on Twitter that “our thoughts and prayers with those who got injured and effected by this cowardly attack in Finsbury Park area” and that there were “many casualties in the floor.”