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Counter-terror Officers Investigate Linked Attacks on 5 Mosques in UK

The police said that its forensic officers are working to identify evidence and CCTV is being examined, while neighbourhood officers are carrying out proactive patrols and working closely with mosques around the West Midlands region of England.

PTI

Updated:March 22, 2019, 9:13 PM IST
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Counter-terror Officers Investigate Linked Attacks on 5 Mosques in UK
An injured person is loaded into an ambulance following a shooting at the Al Noor mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, on March 15, 2019. (REUTERS)

London: Britain's Counter-Terrorism Unit officers have joined forces with local police to investigate reports of five mosques being targeted across the city of Birmingham this week amid tightening of security across the world following the Christchurch terror attack.

Local West Midlands Police said the motive behind the attacks remains unknown and that security has been stepped up at mosques across the city following the spate of vandalism since Wednesday night.

The attacks are believed to be linked after officers were called to reports of a man smashing windows with a sledgehammer at the Jame Masjid in Birchfield Road and then soon after to a mosque in Erdington area of the city with reports of a similar attack on Wednesday night.

The force began instant patrols in areas with mosques and came across further damage at similar Islamic places of worship in other areas. In the wake of the terrorist attack on a mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, last Friday that claimed 50 lives, West Midlands Police said it was working alongside counter-terrorism officers to uncover the motive behind the incidents.

"What I can say is that the force and the Counter Terrorism Unit are working side-by-side to find whoever is responsible," said West Midlands Police Chief Constable Dave Thompson.

"Since the tragic events in Christchurch, New Zealand, officers and staff from West Midlands Police have been working closely with our faith partners across the region to offer reassurance and support at mosques, churches and places of prayer, he said.

"Attacks of this nature have no place in our community and will not be tolerated. I want to reassure people that West Midlands Police is doing all it can to bring the perpetrators to justice," added West Midlands Police and Crime Commisioner David Jamieson.

The police said that its forensic officers are working to identify evidence and CCTV is being examined, while neighbourhood officers are carrying out proactive patrols and working closely with mosques around the West Midlands region of England.

UK Home Secretary Sajid Javid said in a Twitter statement: "Deeply concerning & distressing to see number of mosques have been vandalised in Birmingham overnight.

"@WMPolice [West Midlands Police] are investigating motive but let me be clear hateful behaviour has absolutely no place in our society & will never be accepted."

The Birmingham Council of Mosques said in a statement that the community was "deeply horrified" by the mosques being vandalised.

"Birmingham's mosques are a place of worship, serenity and a source of peace and tranquillity. We are appalled by such acts of hate/terror," the statement noted.

The UK government had enhanced its Places of Worship Fund earlier this week to offer places of worship the chance to apply for additional security related investment. With more than a third of the grants under the scheme being awarded to mosques, the additional GBP 1.6-million boost is expected to benefit even more mosques around the UK.

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