LONDON (AP) - British media have identified the suspect held in connection with the van attack outside a London mosque as Darren Osborne, from the Welsh city of Cardiff. He is being held on suspicion of attempted murder and alleged terror offenses.
British media report that some of Osborne’s neighbors have described the father of four as “aggressive” and “strange.”
Witnesses said Osborne claimed he wanted to “kill all Muslims” after he drove into a crowd leaving a mosque early Monday morning. One man who was receiving first aid at the time of the attack died; it’s unclear if his death was a result of the attack or from a previous condition.
Osborne was arrested on suspicion of the commission, preparation or instigation of terrorism including murder and attempted murder.
A man plowed a van into a crowd of Muslim worshipers outside a north London mosque early Monday, injuring 10 people.
London police are investigating it as a terrorist incident.
Police said another man died at the scene, although he was receiving first aid at the time and it wasn’t clear if he died as a result of the attack or of something else.
British Prime Minister Theresa May condemned the attack “on innocent people” and declared that Britain would stop at nothing to defeat extremism.
“Hatred and evil of this kind will never succeed,” she said in a televised statement.
Police said the 48-year-old white man who was driving the van that hit those leaving evening prayers at the Finsbury Park mosque has been arrested on suspicion of attempted murder. Police have not released his identity. He has been taken to a hospital as a precaution.
Metropolitan Police Deputy Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu said police are investigating whether the death of the man getting first aid was a direct result of the attack, but it was too early to say for sure.
London police — already stretched by a series of tragedies including a June 14 high-rise apartment fire in which 79 people are presumed dead and a June 3 terror attack near London Bridge that killed seven people — said they are putting more officers on the street to reassure the public. Muslim leaders called for calm.
“While this appears to be an attack on a particular community, 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,” Khan said. “The situation is still unfolding and I urge all Londoners to remain calm and vigilant.”
British security officials, speaking on condition of anonymity in line with official policy, said hate crimes directed at Muslims have increased nearly five-fold in the wake of several attacks in Britain.
Counter-terror officials said they were closely monitoring terror activity linked to far-right groups but most of the recent attacks have been traced to individuals rather than groups.
Sky News reported that the mosque’s imam prevented the crowd from beating the attacker until police arrived.
Toufik Kacimi, chief executive of the Muslim Welfare House, speaking to Sky News, said the attack clearly targeted Muslims leaving evening prayers during Ramadan.
“We have a witness saying that the guy who did what he did, the driver of the van, said ‘I did my bit,’ which means he’s not mentally ill,” Kacimi said. “This person was conscious. He did what he did deliberately to hit and kill as many Muslims as possible, so he is a terrorist.”
But the attack also laid bare the frustrations of a community who believe they’ve been unfairly equated with extremists who have carried out atrocities in the name of Islam. Early police caution about declaring the incident to be terrorist-related was interpreted by the community as discriminatory.
A vehicle struck pedestrians on a north London road early Monday morning, causing several casualties, police said. One person has been arrested.
Sky News reported that police said the incident happened after worshippers were leaving the Finsbury Park mosque after prayers.
Metropolitan Police said officers were called to the scene on Seven Sisters Road at 12:20 a.m. Monday. The London Ambulance Service said it was responding to the incident.
Transportation officials said roads in the area were being closed. Many police cars and ambulances responded to the incident.
No other details were immediately available.
Britain's terrorist alert has been set at "severe" meaning an attack is highly likely.