By Iliana Magra and Sewell Chan
LONDON – A van drove into a group of pedestrians early Monday near a mosque in London, killing one person and injuring 10 in what the mayor called a “horrific terrorist attack” that struck Muslims as they finished prayers.
The Metropolitan Police confirmed that the case was being investigated as a possible terrorist attack. The driver of the van, a 48-year-old man, was arrested after bystanders kept him from fleeing, the police said in a statement.
One man was pronounced dead at the scene. Eight pedestrians were taken to three separate hospitals, and two were treated at the scene for minor injuries, the police said.
The mayor, Sadiq Khan, acknowledged that the situation was still unfolding, and he urged Londoners to remain calm and vigilant. “While this appears to be an attack on a particular community,” he said, “like the terrible attacks in Manchester, Westminster and London Bridge, it is also an assault on all our shared values of tolerance, freedom and respect.”
The British prime minister, Theresa May, said she would lead an emergency meeting later Monday about the case. “All my thoughts are with the victims, their families and the emergency services on the scene,” she said.
The police had been summoned to Seven Sisters Road in Finsbury Park, a neighborhood that is home to many immigrants, at 12:20 a.m., officials said.
Witnesses there, and numerous accounts on social media, said the pedestrians were hit outside the Finsbury Park Mosque or the nearby Muslim Welfare House, a community center.
“We have been informed that a van has run over worshipers as they left #FinsburyPark Mosque,” the Muslim Council of Britain said on Twitter. “Our prayers are with the victims.”
A Twitter post on the account of Muslim Engagement and Development, a nonprofit organization that fights Islamophobia and encourages British Muslims to get more involved in media and politics, said, “Our prayers and thoughts with those injured outside Muslim Welfare House in Seven Sisters road hit by a van mounting pavement.”
One witness, Mahroof Mohammed, said he was having his evening tea at a Somalian restaurant on Seven Sisters Road when he heard people running. He went outside and saw several injured people. “There were seven or eight. Three of them were bleeding badly,” he said. “They were all leaving the mosque when they got hit.”