Amid the chaos and agitation surging through a crowd early Monday after a van plowed into pedestrians outside London's Finsbury Park Mosque, one person stepped in to protect the attacker, witnesses say: the mosque's imam.
"It was an attack that once again targeted the ordinary and the innocent going about their daily lives - this time British Muslims as they left a mosque having broken their fast and prayed together at this sacred time of year", she said.
Some bystanders told reporters that the van's driver said "Kill all Muslims" and "I did it" following the attack, and he reportedly smiled and waved at the crowds as he was taken away in a police cruiser. The elderly man died at the scene, but it wasn't immediately clear whether he received additional injuries from the van or if his medical treatment was cut short by the incident. A witness told the BBC that the driver said, "I want to kill Muslims", as he tried to flee the scene.
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"We treat this as a terrorist attack and we in the Met are as shocked as anybody in this local community or across the country at what has happened".
"Such incidents, which strike at Muslims and undermine the human values which ensure peaceful cohabitation must be prevented in future, irrespective of faith or nationality", it said, offering "the most honest condolences to the victim's families for this violent and distressing incident".
Mohammed Kozbar, chairman of the Finsbury Park Mosque, called for Prime Minister Theresa May's government to take action. It has not been associated with radical views for more than a decade.
Vehicles have also been also used to attack the public on London's Westminster Bridge, in Nice, France, and in Berlin. At least 10 people were injured.
It also follows a suicide bombing at a pop concert in Manchester last month which killed 22, while in March, a man drove a rented auto into pedestrians on Westminster Bridge in London and stabbed a policeman to death before being shot dead. Police shot and killed the three Islamic extremists who carried out the attack.