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25 Jun 2017 6:55
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  •   Home > News > International

    Finsbury Park: Eyewitnesses describe moment van ploughed through crowd of worshippers

    Witnesses describe the moment a van swerved into a crowd of worshippers outside a London mosque, killing one person.

    Witnesses have described the moment a van swerved into a crowd of worshippers outside a London mosque, killing one person.

    The Muslim Council of Britain in a statement said it appeared "a white man in a van intentionally ploughed into a group of worshippers who were already tending to someone who had been taken ill".

    The London Ambulance Service said eight people were being treated for injuries in hospital after the attack on the Seven Sisters Road in Finsbury Park.

    A 48-year-old driver of the van, who was detained by members of the public at the scene, is under arrest and counter-terror police have been called in.

    This is what the eyewitnesses have said about what police declare a "major incident".

    Aweys Sheikh Ali described the compelling moment the perpetrator was detained by the crowd.

    "He [the driver] wanted to run away but we caught him. We held him. We held him [for a] long time, then police came after half an hour," Mr Ali said.

    "We, around four people, six people, we catch it [attacker] but when we put him down, he's scrambling.

    "It's terrorist, absolutely it's terrorist, same as the London Bridge and the Westminster Bridge."

    'He was smiling, he was happy'

    A witness who wished to remain anonymous told the ABC they were "minding our own business, drinking tea" when "a big white van" swerved in.

    He said prior to the attack a man had collapsed and people were helping him.

    "As soon as they were helping him, the car just swerved in," he said.

    "[The van] swerved in and ran [over] especially the guy who was on the floor. That person died."

    He said "everyone was shocked" at the sight of "bodies everywhere".

    "The guy [the attacker] was smiling. He was happy," the witness said.

    "We got the guy and we waited for police."

    He added that, despite hearing reports that two others were armed with knives, the group of people he was with did not see anyone with weapons.

    Police said none of the injured suffered knife wounds.

    'It's a terror attack on Muslims'

    Mohim, who received a phone call from his cousin who was hit by the van, said it was "a terror attack on Muslims".

    Mohim said his cousin held the attacker to the floor.

    "He [the attacker] tried to escape, they grabbed him, they pinned him down. He wasn't harmed," he said.

    Mohim said he knew the person who died in the attack.

    "One of our friends, he collapsed here on the corner. I went to call his family, heard the noise. Someone told me now he died. He collapsed, heart attack or something like that," he said.

    "For us here this [Ramadan] is a peaceful month, all evil is locked up, we say peace, share food with our neighbours.

    "These kids, these teenagers who are injured, they're supposed to go to school tomorrow. They're not going to school. Someone's grandad has passed away.

    'He's done it on purpose'

    Mohammed Abdullah said the attack happened shortly after the prayer in the mosque had finished.

    "[The incident happened] at the same time as the prayer was finished. [It] was this mosque and the other mosque just around the corner. As soon as it [prayer] finished this guy came, he drove on the bus lane, and turned," he said.

    "I think the road is a one-way road. I think it is a blocked road as well, is not even a through road, this is a blocked road. So, he's done it on purpose.

    Mr Abdullah said he was worried about the two men who had escaped.

    "Of course it is a terrorist attack, this is a terrorist attack. He [attacker] was not ill. And he wasn't drunk. He was on the floor for 5 minutes, people were holding him. If somebody is drunk, you cannot hold them for 5 minutes," he said.

    "This is something we shouldn't see in our neighbourhood. We should not see in the world. So, when I go to the prayers, I am down the road. That's something that scares me.

    "This is something he's done on purpose. They did it on purpose. They've done it exactly after the hour of prayer."

    'Nowhere is safe right now'

    Another eyewitness, who only gave his first name Ali, told the ABC he saw people screaming and moaning after the attack.

    "He [the attacker] would've had to choose his moment to rev up and to gain enough speed to cause such injury. And he watched people," he said.

    "I saw a lot of fatality on the ground: people screaming and moaning. I thought they were dead. I never went to find out.

    "I saw at least eight people on the floor. Whatever happened, it was done in a very vindictive way, it wasn't an accident.

    "It was a very very huge shock. Nowhere is safe right now. People are confused, worried."

    'ISIS doesn't have monopoly on driving vans into people'

    A witness said the incident was evidence terrorist acts were not committed by Muslims only.

    "People who have seen the culprit, he was a white male," he said.

    "ISIS doesn't have a monopoly on driving trucks and vans into people, into crowds. Now we know that there are other terrorists who have done exactly the same thing."

    © 2017 ABC Australian Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved

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