“Serious harm” was the likely intention of Friday’s nail bomb.
A counter-terrorism investigation has been launched following an explosion near a Tipton mosque. Residents reported hearing a loud bang in wasteland off Binfield Street at around 1pm this afternoon that scattered debris over a large area and into local gardens.
It’s understood the explosion centred on an embankment near a disused rail line running behind the Kanz Ul Iman Masjid mosque. No-one was injured in the explosion but some minor damage to property was reported. Forensics experts are examining the area and several nails believed to have been found by residents around the blast scene. At this stage West Midlands Police is treating the incident as a suspected act of terrorism and are urging witnesses who saw anyone acting suspiciously behind the mosque to contact police immediately.
Assistant Chief Constable Gary Cann, said: “We can’t say for definite the explosion was intended to damage the mosque but the most likely conclusion is it was intended to cause serious harm to people or property. That leads us to have a working assumption, based on what we know now, that this is an act of terrorism.”
ACC Cann added, “Our Counter Terrorism Unit is one of the most experienced teams in the country. It’s a unit that’s had well-publicised recent success in combating terrorism and putting anyone intent on causing harm in our communities behind bars. We have a large number of experts and specialists working on this case and I’m confident we’ll get to the bottom of exactly what happened.
He also reassured local residents, “We have officers visiting local mosques and other places of worship and the response from the mosque has been very supportive. This is greatly helping our enquiries.”
Binfield Street and surrounding roads were cordoned off after the explosion as a precaution whilst police and bomb disposal experts explored the scene and made it safe. With the exception of Binfield Street the road closures have now been lifted.
Imam Ghulam Rasool, a spokesperson for Kanzul Iman Masjid mosque, stood alongside ACC Cann at an on-site media briefing where he condemned the incident and vowed that the community would “stand united together”. He added: “We are deeply shocked and dismayed at what’s happened. On behalf of the local community we condemn this senseless act.
Imam Rasool also appealed for calm, saying “It’s important everyone remains calm and not let this incident cause disharmony. We have worked hard to build good community relations in Tipton and will not allow this to divide us or undermine cohesion in the borough. We are working closely with the police to support their investigation and efforts to track down the perpetrators as soon as possible.”
Anyone with information is urged to call police on 101 or the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.