Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 20 September 2014

Controlled blast in mosque probe

It is understood the explosion centred on an embankment near a disused rail line running behind the Kanz Ul Iman Masjid mosque in Tipton

A controlled explosion has been carried out on what is suspected to have been part of a nail bomb that exploded at a mosque.

A West Midlands Police spokesman said officers carried out the procedure at around 5pm on Saturday after the "potential small component part" was found in the back garden of a property near the Kanz Ul Iman Masjid mosque in Tipton.

The spokesman said there had been no problems with the controlled explosion and the situation had been dealt with by explosives specialists. Asked if he was able to confirm if the part was a component of the nail bomb, he said: "We would not be able to say until it has been analysed."

A counter-terrorism investigation was launched after the mosque was attacked on Friday afternoon. Nobody was hurt in the incident but detectives believe the explosion was designed to cause "serious harm".

Officers found the part during forensic searches of the cordoned area around the mosque and bomb disposal squads were called in.

As forensics investigators and detectives began to piece the puzzle together, police and religious leaders urged residents to stick together regardless of beliefs and backgrounds.

Ghulam Rasool, a local imam, implored community members not to let inter-faith relations be undermined. Saying the incident would not change residents' attitudes or beliefs, he said everyone believed in shared values such as freedom of speech and religious expression. He said: "The people of Tipton and Sandwell will not succumb to disharmony."

Chief Superintendent Mark Robinson asked residents to remain patient and calm as officers conducted their investigation, which he warned would be lengthy. He said members of the various faiths were determined to show solidarity. He said: "They are determined to carry on - it's business as usual."

A combination of factors taken together had led officers to treat the incident as an act of terrorism, including the presence of nails and the location of the incident.

Forensic scientists, together with British Transport Police, were examining local gardens and a nearby disused railway line. The Kanz Ul Iman Masjid mosque is expected to remain closed until at least Sunday evening while the investigation continues.

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