Teenagers held over mosque attack
Published 03/12/2010 | 22:12
Four teenagers have been arrested by police investigating an arson attack on a mosque in which a gas main was damaged.
Staffordshire Police said three men and a woman, all aged in their late teens, had been detained in connection with the fire at the newly-built mosque in Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent.
Emergency services were alerted to the blaze, which is being treated as a racist attack, at around 6.30am on Friday after smoke was seen coming from the building.
Confirming the arrests, a police spokesman said the three local men and a local woman were in custody and were to be questioned by detectives.
Officers are conducting a review of CCTV footage from the local area and are also making house-to-house inquiries around the Regent Road mosque. Detectives have said they are investigating a link between damage to a nearby gas main and the fire at the mosque, which suffered no structural damage.
Chief Inspector Wayne Jones said: "Local neighbourhood police officers are meeting with members of the community to keep them informed and to address their concerns and obvious anger about this criminal incident.
"We are treating this incident as a racist attack on a religious building."
Mr Jones added: "I am sure the community are as appalled as we are at this behaviour. I would appeal for anyone with information to come forward."
Mohammed Pervez, the leader of Stoke-on-Trent City Council, urged anyone with information about the fire to come forward as soon as possible. He said: "This is a very serious incident. City Council officers are working closely with the police to assist them in their inquiries."
Anyone with information is asked to contact Stoke-on-Trent CID on 0300 123 44 55 or the Crimestoppers service, where information can be given anonymously, on 0800 555 111.