Six people have been injured in Newcastle after a car collided with people gathered for Eid prayers in an incident police believe is not “terror related”.
Northumbria Police said they were called to the Westgate Road around 9.15am on Sunday to reports a vehicle had struck pedestrians outside Westgate Sports Centre.
“Police enquiries are on-going to establish exactly what happened but, at this time, it is not believed to be a terrorist incident,” the force said in a statement early today.
A later statement by Assistant Chief Constable Darren Best said: “What we have established is that a 42-year-old female has been celebrating Eid with her family, she then got into her car and has collided with six people in the crowd.
“We have no information to suggest this is terror-related, however, this is a serious collision with multiple casualties and extensive enquiries are on-going to establish the circumstances around this tragic incident.”
The injured include three children and three adults.
Two of the children are in Paediatric Intensive Care and one adult in the Trauma High Dependency Unit, Best said on Sunday afternoon. He added that the other three victims of the crash are believed to have “serious but not life threatening injuries”.
A 42-year-old woman was arrested at the scene and is now in police custody.
Witnesses have suggested the woman may have accidentally accelerated into bystanders and mounted the curb while trying to exit the car park. Police have not yet commented on the exact circumstances surrounding the incident.
ChronicleLive earlier quoted a witness as saying “six or seven” people had been hurt in what had been feared to be a more sinister incident in the wake of Monday’s attack at the Finsbury Park mosque in north London.
Chi Onwurah, Labour MP for Newcastle Central, tweeted following the incident saying that she had attended the event earlier in the day and “there was so much joy & unity”.
She added: |Thinking of those affected by what I am told was terrible accident.”
Asif Anwar witnessed the incident and told the website that it unfolded as hundreds of people had gathered in the area for Eid prayers to mark the end of Ramadan.
He said: “The lady lost control of the car and hit some people. Two of them were kids.”
Due to recent terrorism incidents the 29-year-old told the website that his first thought was that it was a terror attack.
“It was chaos, everyone was panicking people just don’t know what is going on these days.
“Terrorism is what everyone was thinking straight away.”
Another eyewitness told the BBC that he was in the car park when he “heard screaming”.
After running towards the community college, the man, named only as Dr Asfar, told the broadcaster he saw a teenager covered in blood and another young person who also appeared to be injured. A middle-aged man outside the community college also had “blood all over his face”, he said.
“The police were already at the scene. I had seen them earlier as they were there watching the prayers,” Dr Asfar said.
“The police put the driver of the car in the back of the police van...
“When I spoke to people at the scene that had seen what happened they said that she was exiting a car park and suddenly accelerated into a crowd of people.
Police said those injured during the incident have been taken to the Royal Victoria Infirmary.
The condition of those hurt has not been confirmed.
The North East ambulance service were called to the scene at 9.15am and initial reports suggested that the police helicopter and armed officers also attended.