London terror attack: Imam stops crowd from beating up attacker

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Imam stops crowd from beating up attacker after van attack in London

LONDON As angry bystanders held down the alleged driver of a van that ploughed into a group of Muslims near a mosque in London just after midnight yesterday, an imam helped calm the situation.

Imam Mohammed Mahmoud shouted: "Don't touch him! No one touch him!", reported The Telegraph.

"(The van driver) tried to run away but we brought him down. He would've died because so many people were punching him, but the imam came out and said 'No more punching, let's keep him down until the police come'," one witness told the Independent.

A statement on the website of the Muslim Welfare House said: "I would like to particularly thank our imam, Mohammed Mahmoud, whose bravery and courage helped calm the immediate situation after the incident and prevented further injuries and potential loss of life."

Worshippers leaving the Finsbury Park Mosque were helping an elderly man who had earlier collapsed when the van ploughed into them.

"He turned left into the alleyway, and he just drove at people," eyewitness Abdiqadir Warra told AFP.

"Some of them he took a few metres. A man was inside the van, and the old man was on the ground. Some people were also injured."

Locals then pounced on the driver and pinned him down while waiting for the police to arrive.

"The man, he tried to escape... but they caught the driver," Mr Warra said.

One man was trapped under the van and people tried to lift up the vehicle to free him.

Eyewitness Khalid Amin said that when people seized the driver, "he was shouting: 'All Muslims, I want to kill all Muslims'. Literally, he said that. Word by word."

Police said a man had been arrested at the scene and that no further suspects had been identified.

Another eyewitness, who gave his name as Athman, told AFP: "While he was in the police van he was waving for victory, he was very happy.

"He chose the time and he chose the place and he chose his target. So, it's the holy month of Ramadan... The time, he was planning for it, the target, he was planning for it, and the place - outside a mosque."

Prime Minister Theresa May said police were treating it as "a potential terrorist attack". She was due to hold an emergency ministerial meeting yesterday.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan called it a "deliberate" and "horrific" terrorist attack on "innocent Londoners".

Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a press statement: "Singapore is appalled by and condemns the attack on innocent worshippers who were leaving nearby mosques after their night prayers...

"That this heinous attack had taken place during the Holy Month of Ramadan is even more disturbing. Such acts remind us that we must remain vigilant, and not allow mistrust and enmity to be sowed in society. We offer our heartfelt condolences to the family of the victim, and we hope that the injured will make a quick recovery."

The ministry said the Singapore High Commission was working closely with the London authorities to monitor the situation. There were no reports of Singaporeans directly affected or injured in the incident, it said, adding that the High Commission was reaching out to Singaporean citizens in London who had e-registered.

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