28/12/2012 12:39 GMT | Updated 28/12/2012 13:38 GMT

Three Arrested Over Pig's Head Left Outside Muslim Community Centre In Leicester

Three people have been arrested after a frozen pig's head was left outside a community centre being used as a Muslim place of worship.

Leicestershire Police said two men, aged 37 and 46, and a 40-year-old woman had been taken into custody today in connection with the incident.

The pig's head was discovered at about 7.30am on Boxing Day by members of a Muslim group arriving at a community centre in the Thurnby Lodge area of Leicester.

Officers are treating the incident as a religiously-motivated offence.

Commenting before today's arrests were made, Superintendent Mark Newcombe, of Leicester Police, said officers were studying CCTV footage as part of their inquiries.

In a statement he said: "The only people using the community centre on Wednesday [Boxing Day] were from a local Muslim group.

"It's easy to draw the conclusion that the pig's head was meant for them, and is the reason we believe this to be religiously motivated.

"Since the incident was reported to us we have been working with the Muslim group to find out as much as we possibly can, along with carrying out CCTV and other inquiries."

Mohammed Lockhat told the BBC: "We are shocked and saddened by this development which is indeed a discriminating and hurtful act of religious intimidation.

"We are working with the police and authorities to bring those responsible to justice.... in the meantime, we continue to work towards a amicable solution to the whole situation."

Muslims are forbidden from eating pork and previous incidents in other parts of the UK have seen extremists prosecuted for similar attempts to cause upset to members of the Islamic community.

There is historic tension in the city over plans by the group who owns the centre, As Salaam, to open an additional Islamic education and community centre in a now-disused scout hut, the subject of protests by the British National Party and the English Defence League.

A petition with 1,500 signatures opposing the plans has been handed to the city council. No decision has been made yet.