LONDON – A vehicle-ramming assault that targeted pedestrians near a mosque in a diverse North London neighborhood on Monday was described by the United Kingdom’s Prime Minister Theresa May as a terrorist attack against the country’s Muslim community.
May made a statement outside her official 10 Downing Street residence in London, a city that in the early hours of Monday morning witnessed its second terror attack in two weeks after a white male plowed a van into a group of Muslims near a mosque in Finsbury Park.
“This was an attack on Muslims near their place of worship and like all terrorism, in whatever form, it shares the same fundamental goal; it seeks to drive us apart,” May told members of the press, adding that it was “every bit as sickening” as other recent attacks to hit the country.
Following a Cobra emergency committee meeting, which convenes top security and government officials, May confirmed earlier police reports that one person was pronounced dead at the scene of the attack, eight others were taken to hospitals across the capital and two were treated at the scene for minor injuries.
London’s Metropolitan Police were still working to establish whether or not the fatality resulted from the attack, amid eyewitness accounts that a man had been receiving first aid from members of the public at the time of the assault.
May confirmed police reports that the assailant acted alone.
The suspect, a 48-year-old white man who was apprehended by passersby, was now in police custody.
At the Downing Street press conference, May said officers had responded within one minute to the emergency situation that unfolded on Seven Sisters Road, near Arsenal soccer club’s stadium, and had declared it a terrorist incident within eight minutes.
She said extra police resources had been deployed and that officers would continue to assess security needs at UK mosques at a time when the holy month of Ramadan was entering its final week.
May said Monday’s incident stood as a reminder that “terrorism, extremism and hatred take many forms.”
The PM reiterated her position that the UK had been too tolerant of extremism and pledged that her government would act to stamp out hateful and extremist ideologies, including Islamophobia, in society and online.
A new counter-terror commission would be established, she said.