UK
13/07/2013 15:10 BST | Updated 12/09/2013 10:12 BST

Police And Community Leaders Appeal For Calm After Nail Bomb Attack On Mosque In Tipton

An appeal for community unity rang out in the wake of a suspected after a nail bomb attack at a mosque, which is being investigated by counter-terror units.

Police launched a terror investigation after the explosion near the Kanz Ul Iman Masjid mosque in Tipton, West Midlands, which officers said was designed to cause "serious harm".

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.

mosque tipton

Police say the device, detonated on the day of Lee Rigby's funeral, was designed to cause 'serious harm'

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.

"The people of Tipton and Sandwell will not succumb to disharmony," he said.

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.

"They are determined to carry on - it's business as usual," he said.

Many on social media have criticised the government for an apparent lack of attention given to the 'terror' attack.

Residents reported hearing a loud bang in wasteland off Binfield Street, Tipton, at around 1pm yesterday that scattered nails and other debris over a large area and into local gardens.

It is understood the explosion centred on an embankment near a disused rail line running behind the mosque. No-one was injured in the explosion but some minor damage to property was reported.

Army experts were called to the area and residents were told to stay away from the scene until it had been made safe.

The incident came on the same day murdered soldier Lee Rigby was remembered at a private funeral service in Bury, Greater Manchester, and just weeks after an explosion near a mosque in the Caldmore area of Walsall on June 21.

The remains of a home-made explosive device were found on June 22 in an alleyway adjoining the Aisha Mosque and Islamic Centre in Rutter Street.

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

Speaking at the scene of the Tipton incident yesterday, Assistant Chief Constable Gareth Cann said he was unaware of any specific links to last month's blast in Walsall.

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.

The senior officer said: "I can't say for certain that it was definitely directed at the mosque, but that seems to be the most likely explanation.

"For now, the working assumption, which could change, is that this was an act of terrorism."

Rob Abbey, 35, who lives a few hundred yards from the mosque, said the explosion sounded "very, very loud" but he had no idea what it was at the time.

There was condemnation of the attack from Muslim groups.

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

He said: "I condemn the terrorist attack on the Kanz-ul-Iman Muslim Welfare Association Central Jamia Mosque in Tipton, West Midlands, and urge all communities to remain calm and support the police to bring the people responsible to justice."

He went on: "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.

"With Ramadan happening for the next four weeks I would urge mosques to step up security and report anything suspicious to the police.

"Finally we will not be frightened by these terrorists from whatever background they come from, they will be defeated."

In a joint statement, the board of trustees and management committee of the Kanz Ul Iman Masjid mosque said they were deeply shocked and dismayed at the incident.

"We jointly, on behalf of the local community, condemn this senseless and mindless act. It's a blessing from God that thankfully no-one was injured in the blast.

"We call for calm and strongly urge the community not to let this incident divide us and cause disharmony. We stand united, stand together in the aftermath of this mindless act. We have worked hard to build good community relations and will not allow this incident to divide us or undermine cohesion in the borough.

"We are working closely with the police with their ongoing investigation seeking reassurance to make the scene as safe and secure as soon as possible and track down the perpetrators."