Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 25 April 2019

Vandals attack five UK mosques with a sledgehammer

Counterterrorism police investigate the breaking of windows overnight

Witton Islamic Centre in Birmingham, where one of the window attacks took place. Source: Google
Witton Islamic Centre in Birmingham, where one of the window attacks took place. Source: Google

British counterterrorism police are investigating the breaking of windows at five mosques in the city of Birmingham.

A sledgehammer is believed to have been used to break all four mosques. The first incident at a mosque on Birchfield Road reportedly took place in the early hours of Thursday morning local time, before police appeared and were alerted to another attack nearby.

"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,” said West Midlands Police Chief Constable Dave Thompson.

"At the moment we don't know the motive for last night's attacks”.

Local Muslim groups say they are "worried" for their safety ahead of Friday prayers.

Speaking to Sky News, Adil Parkar of Birmingham Council of Mosques said: "Our congregation is worried. Parents whose kids come to our mosques every evening are taken aback by what's going on."

"There is fear, anger and scepticism about what the government is doing about the security of our mosques right now," he added.

Security has been stepped up across Birmingham, the UK’s ‘second city’ with around 21 per cent of the city’s population identifying as Muslim.

Meanwhile, British Home Secretary Sajid Javid has doubled funding for security in places of worship to £1.6 million for next year following the Christchurch terror attacks.

Mr Javid expressed his concern on Twitter on Thursday.

Muslim leaders have backed calls for more security at UK mosques amid fears the New Zealand shooting could spark copycat terror attacks in the UK.

In 2013, 82-year-old Mohammed Saleem was stabbed to death near his home after attending prayers at Green Lane Mosque in Birmingham. White supremacist terrorist Pavlo Lapshyn was jailed in what was described by prosecutors as a racially motivated attack.

The attack comes a day before the Muslim holy day of Friday, when congregational prayers take place and follows almost a week after a massacre at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, where 50 people were killed.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern pledged to ban semi-automatic weapons 24 hours after the attack.

Australian Brenton Tarrant, 28, a self-described white supremacist, has been charged with murder.

Updated: March 21, 2019 05:10 PM

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