A police officer who was stabbed in the chest and stomach managed to arrest a mosque knifeman who had attacked three worshippers and shrugged off being hit by a Taser.
The attacker is alleged to have stabbed three other men with a large combat knife in the Madrassa Qasim Ul Uloom mosque in the Ward End area of Birmingham on Sunday night. Police said there was nothing to suggest the incident was a hate crime or that it was connected with other such similar incidents in the wake of Drummer Lee Rigby's death in Woolwich. The motive for the attack is still unclear.
The 31-year-old male police officer was with a female colleague as they responded to emergency calls from inside the mosque at around 11pm. Inside, police found the a 32-year-old, who is a local man believed to be of Somalian descent, inside a side room. A Taser was fired at him as he ran at officers with the large knife but it had no effect.
The attacker launched himself at the unnamed male West Midlands Police officer, stabbing him in the chest and stomach around the stab proof vest he was wearing. Despite serious injuries, for which he was operated on in hospital on Sunday, the unarmed officer managed to disarm the man and detain him. The female police officer was unharmed in the incident.
He was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder and was later taken to a secure mental health unit after doctors deemed him unfit to be interviewed.
Speaking at the scene of the incident in Washwood Heath Road, Chief Superintendent Alex Murray praised the officers and other worshippers inside the mosque for their "heroic" actions. Many helped administer first aid to those injured and offered assistance where they could following the incident. "There was some real brave action going on inside that mosque last night," Mr Murray added.
The injured police officer, who is from the Yardley Wood area of Birmingham and has served with West Midlands Police since 2007, has his family by his bedside as he is treated in hospital. Mr Murray said the motivation of the suspect, who was not a regular worshipper at the mosque, was not clear.
"We don't understand the motivation of this individual. We understand he was worshipping at the mosque but he wasn't known to the mosque. The mosque welcomed him in that evening. There's no connection with any other incidents that we can see at the moment - for example, Woolwich or other incidents around the country - but we're exploring all lines of inquiry in relation to what motivated this individual to do such a thing." He added: "There's no information at this stage to suggest it was a hate crime."
Local residents said they heard screams coming from the mosque at around 11pm, the approximate time the attack is thought to have happened, and saw people running out saying a man was inside stabbing people. As well as the police officer, three other men were injured in the attack, two seriously. A 28-year-old man was stabbed in the arm, and a 36-year-old man was stabbed once in the thigh. A third man suffered a hand injury and is now recovering at home.
West Midlands Police said high-visibility patrols have been stepped up in the area to reassure the local community and urged people to contact the force if they have any information relating to the attack. A spokesman said the investigation is still ongoing and asked anyone with any information to contact West Midlands Police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.