London (AFP) – Worshippers leaving a London mosque early Monday were helping an elderly man who had collapsed when a van deliberately rammed them, driven by an attacker who shouted: “I want to kill all Muslims”, witnesses said.
Shortly after midnight, the van swerved towards people who had just left prayers at the Finsbury Park Mosque and the Muslim Welfare House in north London and were assisting their stricken fellow worshipper.
The man who collapsed was pronounced dead at the scene and 10 people were injured, with eight taken to hospital.
But the driver, pinned to the ground and facing a mob beating, was saved by the Welfare House imam who ordered infuriated younger men to stand back.
“He just drove at people,” witness Abdiqadir Warra told AFP of the attacker. “Some of them he took a few metres.
“The old man was also on the ground, and I see some people were also injured. Some of them were very bad.”
Another witness Mohammed Abdullah told Sky News television: “He actually went on top of the people, he actually ran them over. And then all I can just see is people getting hit.”
– ‘I’m restraining him’ –
Locals pounced on the driver and two or three men pinned him down, then others waded in, trying to punch and kick him.
Imam Mohammed Mahmoud then stepped in and, according to onlookers, saved the driver’s life by ordering angry bystanders to stand away.
“I’m restraining him,” one man shouted. “Don’t touch him! Don’t touch him!”, eyewitness video footage showed.
“Look what’s happened!” shouted another.
“Calm down,” someone says as the driver reels on the ground.
“He had been restrained by about three people. The injured and the deceased brother were being tended to,” Mahmoud told reporters.
“We found a group of people quickly started to collect around the assailant. Some tried to hit and punch and kick him.
“By God’s grace we managed to surround him and protect him from any harm.”
A police van drove by, and the driver was dragged up to his feet.
When the suspect was being led…