UK

Bomb Squad Sent To Mosque As 39 Homes Evacuated In Walsall

23/06/2013 08:45 BST | Updated 23/06/2013 16:19 BST

Bomb disposal experts have been called to a mosque after the discovery of a 'suspicious item'.

West Midlands Police said Army experts had ordered the evacuation of almost 40 homes in the vicinity of the place of worship in Rutter Street, Walsall.

Superintendent Keith Fraser, the head of crime and operations for Walsall Police, said the incident was being treated as hate crime but the motive for placing the item near a mosque remained unclear.

Speaking at the scene, he said: "At around 10.15pm on Saturday, police were called to Aisha mosque in relation to a suspicious item that had been found.

"The force are taking this extremely seriously.

"We have launched a full investigation into the suspicious item that has been found, and what's going to be the key to this is the public's help in relation to helping us to understand why that suspicious item was in the area."

A police spokesman confirmed that officers were alerted to the suspicious item at 10.45pm on Saturday after it was found by a member of the public.

The spokesman said the item was found in the grounds of the mosque by the member of the public and was then taken inside the building.

mosque bomb alert

Army bomb disposal experts were called to the scene

Stressing that the evacuation of homes was a "precautionary and temporary" measure, the spokesman added: "Officers were immediately dispatched and cordoned off an area around the building.

"Army bomb disposal experts are currently at the scene and have this morning ordered the evacuation of around 39 homes in the immediate vicinity of the mosque.

"People in the affected area and who are unable to make alternative arrangements are being taken to Walsall Town Hall, where they will be cared for.

"Officers are continuing to work hard to establish what the item is and how it got there."

Officials from Walsall Council are also working closely with the emergency services to support local people and minimise disruption in the area.