The British have suffered another terrorist incident, this time a driver of a van ran down a large group of Muslim worshippers as they left midnight Ramadan prayers at a London mosque.
The attack, which took place early Monday morning left one person dead and at least 10 others injured, eight of which were still in the hospital today. The attacker was described as a white man, 48 years old. He was tackled by onlookers and held until police arrived just moments later.
The attack has left London’s Muslim community scared and angry at both police and first responders for what many called a slow response time.
Ahmed Shakair, 25, left prayers at the nearby Muslim welfare center and witnessed a vehicle mounting the sidewalk with all four of its wheels.
He said there had been prayers for the Grenfell Tower victims before worshippers broke off to eat. “I came out … and started walking away when I heard screaming,” he said. “I saw a white van hurtling along at 40-50 miles an hour then it swerved onto the [sidewalk] … and smashed into a group.
Shakair added: “Remember there were 400-500 people on the street coming out at the end of prayers. So there were lots of people around.”
He recounted seeing “bodies all over the ground.”
Omar said it had been “an attack on Muslims practicing religion” — and one which occurred during the holy month of Ramadan.
“We have been warning that this would happen, that it is dangerous for Muslims because of far-right terrorism, but not enough has been done about it,” he said. “We’re not safe in our own community. If this was an affluent area then maybe the politicians, the authorities, they would care more. But this is a Muslim area, a mixed area. It is like what happened with the fire — people get ignored because they are poor.”
Many expressed similar sentiments, claiming that officials and local media had been slower to label the incident terrorism in comparison to recent attacks. However, Prime Minister Theresa May later said it had been declared a terrorist attack by police after only eight minutes.
Ahmed Kaballo, 28, said: “I am angry at the police response. It would have been different had the terrorist looked Muslim.”
Abdul Abdullah, 16, who regularly attends the nearby Finsbury Park Mosque, said there was “a lot of confusion and anger” in the area.
“I could see police here really quickly,” he said, but added that it felt like victims were “treated in the street for ages until ambulances came.”
Officials said it took 14 minutes for the first ambulance to arrive. The service aims to arrive at 75 percent of its serious call-outs within 8 minutes.
Prime Minister Theresa May said the attack was a clear example that “terrorism, extremism and hatred take many forms” and that the suspect’s goal was the same as those who wield violence against civilians in the name of Islam; “to drive us apart.”
“We will not let this happen,” May said.
To read the entire article from the NBC News click here:
Photo courtesy Reuters