Suspect Arrested After Van Hits Pedestrians Near London Mosque

LONDON (CBSNewYork) — A man was arrested Monday after authorities said a vehicle hit pedestrians outside a mosque in London.

As CBS2’s Tony Aiello reported, concerned Londoners brought flowers to the scene of the early morning attack, and hung up signs condemning terror of every variety.

As CBS News’ Brook Silva-Braga reported, at least nine people were hurt when the rented van plowed into the crowd. One man also died at the scene, but he was receiving first aid at the time and it is not clear whether he died in the attack or of another cause.

The attack happened just after midnight local time in Finsbury Park as Ramadan prayers ended.

London papers indicated that Osborne had become distraught over recent terror attacks in the U.K.

“He was shouting: ‘Where are all the Muslims? I want to kill all Muslims!’” said an eyewitness named Khalid.

It happened as a group gathered to give first aid to an elderly man outside the mosque. He is the one who later died.

“One man was pronounced dead at the scene,” said Deputy Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu, senior national coordinator for counter terrorism. “Eight others are in hospital and two were treated at the scene. All victims were members of the Muslim community.”

Cellphone video showed police arresting a man whom they identified as Darren Osborne, 47. Witnesses said several people, including the mosque’s imam, subdued the driver and protected him from the crowd until authorities arrived.

“Some tried to hit him, either kicks or punches,” said Finsbury Park mosque Imam Mohammed Mahmoud. “We stopped all forms of attack and abuse towards him.”

Police said they are investigating the incident as terrorism.

“Given the methodology, given what’s occurring, the tragic incidents across the country, this had all the hallmarks of a terrorist incident,” said Basu.

Commander Cressida Dick also said Monday that the incident was clearly an attack on Muslims.

Police said Osborne was not on their radar.

“Some of these sudden violent extremist type attacks are both incredibly difficult to anticipate, but also to counter,” said Security Minister Ben Wallace.

Britain’s terrorism threat level has been set at severe, meaning an attack is highly likely.

Earlier this month, three men drove a van through crowds on London bridge before stabbing people, killing eight. In March, a vehicle and knife attack killed six people near the parliament building in London.

“No matter what the motivation for this attack proves to be, we are keeping an open mind,” said Basu. “This is being treated as a terrorist attack and counter terrorism command is investigating.”

British officials also said hate crimes against Muslims have risen sharply following the recent attacks by Islamic extremists.

“We have to break the circle of violence,” said Toufik Kacimi of the Muslim Welfare House, outside which the Monday morning incident happened. “We want to live in harmony in a peaceful community.”

London Mayor Sadiq Kahn said “these have been a terrible few weeks for London — unprecedented in recent times.” He said the recent attacks “are all an attack on our shared values.”

“Our shared values of tolerance, of freedom and respect,” he said. “And we will not allow these terrorists to succeed.”

London police reassured Muslims they will get extra protection through the rest of the holy month of Ramadan, but the promise is little comfort to some.

“I just feel like targeted by people, I feel unsafe,” said resident Emma Salem. “I don’t feel we should be like this as a community.”

Prime Minister Theresa May spoke with interfaith leaders sat the mosque after the incident.

“There has been far too much tolerance of extremism in our country over many years and that means extremism of any kind, including Islamophobia,” she said.

May added, “Hate and evil of this kind will never succeed.”

Some witnesses said it took police close to an hour to respond to the incident, but the prime minister and police commissioner pushed back, saying it took officers only minutes to arrive.

May said security will be beefed up in Muslim communities through the rest of the Holy Month of Ramadan.

Back in New York, Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted that “New York City stands united against the anti-Muslim hate that inspired last night’s attack in London.”

The NYPD has also stepped up security at places of worship around the city, including outside the Islamic Society of Mid-Manhattan on East 55th Street.

Meanwhile in Paterson, New Jersey Monday night, the Christian and Muslim communities came together at St. Joseph’s Regional Medical Center in a show of unity.

“I think we believe in building bridges and being brothers and sisters in one nation, one humanity,” said Dr Mohammad Qatanani of the Islamic Center of Passaic County.

Authorities say they have not received any credible threats against the Tri-State Area.

Later Monday, another terror attack targeted police in Paris. Cellphone video showed smoke billowing from a car after a 31-year-old man drove it into a police van on the famous Avenue des Champs-Élysées.

French officials said there were weapons and explosives in the trunk.

The attacker later died at the scene, but police have not said how.

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