70-year-old prayer leader stabbed in London mosque

The victim was stabbed during afternoon prayers at London Central Mosque in Regent’s Park. (AP pic)

LONDON: A prayer leader in his 70s was stabbed in a London mosque on Thursday and the assailant was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder, police and mosque officials said.

“The attacker was apprehended by the worshippers until the police arrived and arrested him,” the London Central Mosque Trust said in a statement.

“The muezzin did not sustain any life-threatening injuries but was seriously injured and is being treated at the hospital.”

London’s Metropolitan Police said detectives did not believe the incident was terrorism-related.

“A 29-year-old man, who is believed to have been attending prayers, was arrested inside the mosque on suspicion of attempted murder,” they added in a statement.

Pictures posted on Twitter showed police officers restraining a man in the prayer hall of the mosque, near Regents Park, and leading him away.

A witness said around 100 worshippers were in the mosque hall at the time of the attack and that roughly 20 people jumped on the assailant.

“I heard screaming,” said the witness, who declined to give his full name, “and then we saw the blood.”

He said the victim was stabbed on top of his shoulder by a man who had been attending the mosque for about six months before Thursday’s incident.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he was deeply saddened to hear of the attack.

“It’s so awful that this should happen, especially in a place of worship. My thoughts are with the victim and all those affected,” Johnson said on Twitter.