Birmingham & Black Country

Wolverhampton Mosque: Explosion debris found at site

Wolverhampton Central Mosque
Police believe the device may have been planted on 27 June

Counter terrorism police searching Wolverhampton Central Mosque have found traces of an explosion and debris.

Army bomb disposal experts made the find on Thursday night as they searched land on Waterloo Road.

Nothing was found at the mosque itself, which has now been reopened for worship, police said.

Two Ukrainian men have been arrested under the Terrorism Act in connection with explosions in Walsall and Tipton, also in the West Midlands.

Cordons have been set up around Wolverhampton Central Mosque and an industrial unit in Small Heath, Birmingham, as investigations continue.

'Possible device activation'

Speaking of the Wolverhampton discovery, Assistant Chief Constable Marcus Beale said: "Officers searching the area have found the seat of an explosion and debris on the island near the mosque.

"The investigation is being led by specialist officers and staff from our Counter Terrorism Unit, who are being supported by a range of departments from across the force."

Police believe the device may have been planted on the evening of 27 June, before going off the next morning.

Assistant Chief Constable Marcus Beale said police are studying CCTV footage

Although people reported hearing a loud bang at the time, the location of the explosion was not discovered until specialist teams came to investigate last night.

Mr Beale said: "There was a call on the 28th of June - normal local response officers came and what we're seeing is the difference between the vast expertise, experience and resources of the counter-terrorism unit when we're able to search in real tight detail."

Officers are studying CCTV footage from cameras around the mosque, including one in the centre of a traffic island.

"That will clearly be a key line of inquiry that we will be pursuing over the next few days, but CCTV is not perfect," Mr Beale said.

Iftikhar Ahmed, a spokesman for the mosque said it was "business as usual" for worshipers.

"People are arriving for Friday payers and will continue to arrive," he added.

He said people attending the mosque were concerned about the causes of the attack.

"There is the perception that a very small minority have the view that mosques are legitimate targets, whereas they are not - they are places of worship, places of harmony, giving out a message of peace," he said.

Road closures set up overnight have been lifted, West Midlands Police said.

Wolverhampton Central Mosque and the surrounding area was evacuated at about 20:00 BST on Thursday and followed reports of "a possible device activation" taking place last month.

Iftikhar Ahmed said people would not be put off coming to the mosque

Bomb disposal experts

Police received the information about the Wolverhampton incident, on Waterloo Road, as part of their investigation into explosions in Walsall and Tipton.

A military bomb disposal team worked with specialist officers to investigate the scene.

Earlier, army bomb disposal experts were near Talbot Way, Small Heath, where some properties were evacuated.

The two men, aged 25 and 22, were arrested in Talbot Way on Thursday, on suspicion of being involved in the commission, preparation or instigation of an act of terrorism.

A "loud bang" was heard near the Aisha Mosque, in Rutter Street, Walsall on 21 June, while another explosion happened near Kanzul Iman Masjid mosque in Tipton on Friday.

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