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One dead, eight injured in London van incident

ONE person has been arrested after a vehicle hit pedestrians in north London, injuring several people, police said Monday, as Muslim leaders said worshippers were mown down after leaving a mosque.

The incident comes after two deadly Islamist-inspired attacks this year that used vehicles to ram pedestrians -- a stabbing spree earlier this month in the London Bridge area and a March attack in which a man drove a rented car into crowds on Westminster Bridge.

Police said they were called to reports of a vehicle in collision with pedestrians shortly after midnight.

"We have been informed that a van has run over worshippers as they left #FinsburyPark Mosque. Our prayers are with the victims," the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), an umbrella body, said on Twitter.

Harun Khan, the head of the MCB, said the van had "intentionally" run over people leaving night prayers for the holy month of Ramadan.

Prime Minister Theresa May condemned it as a "terrible incident", while opposition Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn said he was "totally shocked" and had been in touch with mosques and police.

The area is in Corbyn's Islington North constituency.

A helicopter hovered overhead and several emergency vehicles blocked a section of Seven Sisters Road, a busy thoroughfare where the incident happened.

Police, including armed officers, could be seen manning a wide cordon around the area. Others searched the area with sniffer dogs.

A group of Muslim men were praying on the pavement nearby. Traffic was shut down along a 1-kilometer section of the road.

"We saw lots of people shouting and lots of people injured," said David Robinson, 41, who arrived just after the accident.

Cynthia Vanzella, who lives near the scene, said on Twitter: "Horrible to watch police officers doing cardiac massage at people on the floor, desperately trying to save them. I just hope they did."

MCB deputy head Miqdaad Versi said the incident happened "outside the Muslim Welfare House", which is on Seven Sisters Road near the mosque.

The London Ambulance Service said: "We have sent a number of ambulance crews, advance paramedics and specialist responses teams to the scene.

"Our priority is to assess the level and nature of injuries and ensure that those most in need are treated first and taken to hospital."

'Evil violence'

Finsbury Park mosque was once a notorious hub for radical Islamists but has entirely changed in recent years under new management.

Its former imam Abu Hamza was jailed for life in New York on terrorism charges in 2015.

He preached there from 1997 to 2003 before being jailed for inciting violence. He was later extradited to the United States.

In 2015, the mosque was one of around 20 that took part in an open day organized by the MCB to promote better understanding of Islam following Islamist-inspired terrorist attacks in Paris.


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