12 Jul 2013

Tipton mosque blast a terrorist incident, say police

Counter-terrorism officers are investigating a suspected terrorist incident at a West Midlands mosque after residents reported a loud bang and nails were reportedly found in the debris.

West Midlands Police said that officers were alerted to the incident in Tipton just after 1pm.

An investigation is being led by the area’s counter terrorism unit, and is being treated as a terrorist incident.

Several streets were sealed off by police after residents reported hearing a loud bang near a mosque near Binland Street, Tipton.

A local councillor told Channel 4 News that police were focusing on a section of disused railway track, near the mosque but not on its premises. Reports that nails and other debris were found are being investigated.

No injuries have been reported but a cordon has been set up in the Binfield Street area of the town, a police spokesman said.

Busy time

The loud bang was reported near the Kanz-ul-Iman Muslim Welfare Association central jamia mosque in Binfield Street, said local councillors.

The incident came on the same day that a private funeral service was held for murdered soldier Lee Rigby in Bury, Greater Manchester.

The chairman of the Kanz-ul Iman mosque was inside the mosque at the time of the explosion, and said it had happened at what would usually be the busiest time of day.

“If it wasn’t Ramadan there would be at least 200 people here but thankfully at the time there were only a handful of people and everybody escaped without injury,” said Mushtaq Hussain, according to ITV.

‘Loud bang’

Councillor Syeda Amina Khatun said she was not aware of any previous attacks on the mosque. “The explosion has gone off on the disused railway line behind the mosque,” she said. “There are lots of police around so there must be want for them to be here.

“The whole estate has been blocked off. People are surprised that something like this has happened.”

Tipton Green councillor Ian Jones said that residents in the area described hearing a “loud thud”.

A police spokesman said: “Police have been called to Binfield Street in Tipton this afternoon following reports of a loud bang.

“A cordon has been set up and the immediate area is being evacuated as a precautionary measure while police investigate what caused it.

Some residents have reported finding debris in the area and finding nails. Police spokesman

“Some residents have reported finding debris in the area and finding nails. This is being investigated by forensic officers at the scene.”

Mohammed Shafiq, chief executive of the Ramadhan Foundation, called on people not to allow terrorism to divide the community.

He condemned the attack and urged people to remain calm. “Like we will not let terrorism divide us when Lee Rigby was killed, we will not allow these thugs and terrorists to divide Muslims from wider society,” he said.

Among the road closures in Tipton are parts of Sedgley Road East, Dudley Port, Jays Avenue, Tudor Court, Park Lane East, Crompton Road and Victoria Road.

Tipton is located between Wolverhampton and Birmingham, in the West Midlands.

Previous mosque explosion

Meanwhile, police are still investigating an explosion near a mosque in the Caldmore area of Walsall, also in the West Midlands.

On 22 June, the remains of a home-made explosive device were found in an alleyway adjoining the Aisha mosque and Islamic centre in Rutter Street, Caldmore.

The earlier incident, in which no-one was injured, forced the overnight evacuation of around 150 people from their homes in the surrounding area. Police are still investigating.

Anyone who saw anything suspicious in the area is urged to call police on 101 or the independent charity Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.