Amir de­nounces at­tack in Lon­don

Paris po­lice hit

Arab Times - - FRONT PAGE -

KUWAIT CITY, June 19, (Agen­cies): His High­ness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah sent ca­bles on Mon­day to Britain’s Queen El­iz­a­beth II and Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May, ex­press­ing his stern con­dem­na­tion of a van at­tack on Mus­lim wor­ship­pers in Lon­don that left one per­son dead and scores of oth­ers in­jured.

In his ca­ble, His High­ness the Amir un­der­scored that Kuwait de­plores such vi­o­lent acts that run counter to hu­man­i­tar­ian val­ues, say­ing that Kuwait sup­ports all mea­sures taken by Britain to up­hold its se­cu­rity.

His High­ness the Amir also wished all those wounded in the at­tack a speedy re­cov­ery.

His High­ness the Crown Prince Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah and His High­ness the Prime Min­is­ter Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Ha­mad Al-Sabah sent sim­i­lar ca­bles to Queen El­iz­a­beth II and the Bri­tish Prime Min­is­ter.

A van ploughed into wor­ship­pers near a Lon­don mosque in the early hours of Mon­day, in­jur­ing 10 peo­ple, two of them se­ri­ously, in what Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May said was a sick­en­ing, ter­ror­ist at­tack on Mus­lims.

The ve­hi­cle swerved into a group of mainly North and West African peo­ple shortly af­ter mid­night as they left prayers at the Mus­lim Wel­fare House and the nearby Fins­bury Park Mosque in north Lon­don, one of the big­gest in Britain.

The driver, a 47-year-old white man, was grabbed at the scene by lo­cals and pinned down un­til po­lice ar­rived.

The man was not named by po­lice. He was held on sus­pi­cion of at­tempted mur­der which was later ex­tended to pre­par­ing or in­sti­gat­ing ter­ror­ism, in­clud­ing mur­der and at­tempted mur­der.

Af­ter be­ing seized, he said he had wanted to kill “many Mus­lim peo­ple,” one wit­ness told jour­nal­ists.

A man, who had ear­lier suf­fered a heart at­tack, died at the scene but it was not clear if his death was con­nected to the van at­tack.

“This morn­ing, our coun­try woke to news of another ter­ror­ist at­tack on the streets of our cap­i­tal city: the sec­ond this month and ev­ery bit as sick­en­ing as those which have come be­fore,” May told re­porters out­side her Down­ing Street of­fice.

“This was an at­tack on Mus­lims near their place of wor­ship,” said May who later vis­ited the mosque.

The at­tack was the fourth since March in Britain and the third to in­volve a ve­hi­cle de­lib­er­ately driven at pedes­tri­ans.

It came at a tu­mul­tuous time for the govern­ment with Britain start­ing com­plex di­vorce talks with the Euro­pean Union and May ne­go­ti­at­ing with a small North­ern Ir­ish party to stay in power af­ter los­ing her par­lia­men­tary ma­jor­ity in a snap elec­tion that back­fired.

The mosques’ wor­ship­pers, mainly from North and West Africa, had just left spe­cial prayers dur­ing the Mus­lim holy month of Ra­madan.

Usain Ali, 28, said he heard a bang and ran for his life.

“When I looked back, I thought it was a car ac­ci­dent, but peo­ple were shout­ing, scream­ing and I re­alised this was a man choos­ing to ter­rorise peo­ple who are pray­ing,” he told Reuters. “He chose ex­actly the time that peo­ple pray, and the mosque is too small and full, so some pray out­side.”

Another wit­ness Yann Bouh­llissa, 38, said he had been tend­ing an old man who had suf­fered a heart at­tack when the van was driven at them. The driver was then seized by lo­cals.

“One guy caught the guy and brought him down,” Bouh­llissa told Reuters. “When he was on the floor, the guy asked ‘why do you do that?’. He said ‘Be­cause I want to kill many Mus­lim peo­ple’.”

Mo­hammed Mah­moud, the imam from the Mus­lim Wel­fare House, stepped in to en­sure the van driver was not hurt un­til he was bun­dled into a po­lice van.

“We found that a group of peo­ple quickly started to col­lect around him ... and some tried to hit him ei­ther with kicks or punches. By God’s grace we man­aged to sur­round him and to pro­tect him from any harm,” Mah­moud told re­porters.

“We stopped all forms of at­tack and abuse to­wards him that were com­ing from ev­ery an­gle.”

Neil Basu, se­nior na­tional co-or­di­na­tor for counter-ter­ror­ism polic­ing, said re­straint shown by lo­cals was “com­mend­able”.

In ad­di­tion to the man who died, 10 peo­ple were in­jured, with eight taken to hospi­tal, two in a very se­ri­ous con­di­tion, po­lice said.

The driver, who Se­cu­rity Min­is­ter Ben Wal­lace said was “not known to the au­thor­i­ties in the space of ex­trem­ism or far-right ex­trem­ism”, was ar­rested on sus­pi­cion of at­tempted mur­der.

Po­lice, who be­lieve he was act­ing alone, were search­ing ad­dresses in Cardiff, Wales, where the ve­hi­cle hire com­pany that the van was rented from is based.

In France, a car loaded with gas can­is­ters rammed into a po­lice van on the Champs-El­y­sees av­enue in Paris on Mon­day, leav­ing the driver dead in what the in­te­rior min­is­ter said was an at­tempted at­tack.

Po­lice sources told AFP that a Kalash­nikov ri­fle, hand­guns and gas

bot­tles were found in the white Re­nault Me­gane.

Video showed orange smoke pour­ing from the car af­ter the im­pact as the ve­hi­cle sat in the mid­dle of the pres­ti­gious av­enue which is lined with shops and cine­mas.

The po­lice and the army have con­sis­tently been at­tacked by ex­trem­ists in France.

“Se­cu­rity forces have been tar­geted in France once again,” In­te­rior Min­is­ter Gerard Col­lomb said, call­ing the in­ci­dent an “at­tempted at­tack”.

The weapons and ex­plo­sives found in the ve­hi­cle “could po­ten­tially blow this car up,” he added.

In­te­rior min­istry spokesman Pier­reHenry Bran­det said bomb dis­posal ex­perts were on the scene to “en­sure the ve­hi­cle poses no fur­ther dan­ger.”

Later, the doors of the car and the bon­net were open as it was searched.

No po­lice or by­standers were in­jured in the in­ci­dent near the Grand Palais ex­hi­bi­tion hall.

“Peo­ple were run­ning ev­ery which way,” said a 51-year-old by­stander who gave his name only as Alexan­dre. “Some shouted at me to get away.”

Anti-ter­ror­ism pros­e­cu­tors have opened an in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

Po­lice closed two of the Metro sta­tions on the Champs-El­y­sees, but two hours af­ter the at­tack tourists were back tak­ing self­ies of the Arc de Tri­om­phe and vis­it­ing shops.

Col­lomb said the at­tack “shows once again that the threat (of an at­tack) re­mains ex­tremely high in France”.

The in­ci­dent came just two months af­ter a po­lice­man was shot and killed on the av­enue, days be­fore the first round of France’s pres­i­den­tial elec­tion.

Af­ter that at­tack, a note prais­ing the Is­lamic State group was found next to the body of the gun­man, Karim Cheurfi, and weapons in­clud­ing a shot­gun and knives were found in his car.

On June 7, a ham­mer-wield­ing Al­ge­rian man was shot and wounded by po­lice af­ter he struck an of­fi­cer on the head in front of Notre Dame Cathe­dral in Paris, shout­ing it was in re­venge “for Syria”.

He had pledged al­le­giance to the Is­lamic State group in a video found at his home.

The at­tack Mon­day was the lat­est of a string in France and Britain.

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