Two arrested after Braintree and Gillingham mosque attacks

 

Two men have been arrested after separate attacks on mosques following the terrorist incident in Woolwich.

A 43-year-old man is in custody on suspicion of attempted arson after reportedly walking into a mosque with a knife in Braintree, Essex.

Local MP Brooks Newmark tweeted last night: "Local mosque in Braintree attacked by man with knives and incendiary device. Man arrested. No one injured."

Mr Newmark added: "Just met with leaders of local mosque in Braintree which was attacked this evening. Thanked local police for their swift response."

Essex Police said a 43-year-old from Braintree was arrested on suspicion of possession of an offensive weapon and attempted arson after the incident in Silks Way at 7.15pm.

The spokesman added that police were investigating the "full circumstances" and said "it would not be appropriate to speculate at this time".

Meanwhile police in Kent were called to reports of criminal damage at a mosque in Canterbury Street, Gillingham, at 8.40pm.

A spokesman said a man is in custody on suspicion of racially-aggravated criminal damage. The force has stepped up the police presence after a man was butchered in broad daylight on the streets of London.

Supporters of the English Defence League (EDL) gathered at Woolwich Arsenal train station near the scene and threw bottles at police.

EDL leader Tommy Robinson, who was among a group of around 250 men, said: "They're chopping our soldiers' heads off. This is Islam. That's what we've seen today."

He added: "They've cut off one of our Army's heads off on the streets of London.

"Our next generation are being taught through schools that Islam is a religion of peace.

"It's not. It never has been. What you saw today is Islam.

"Everyone's had enough. There has to be a reaction, for the Government to listen, for the police to listen, to understand how angry this British public are."

The men then engaged in brief skirmishes with police across the large public square opposite the station.

The secretary of the mosque in Braintree, Sikander Saleemy, reportedly told Channel 4 News that he felt like it was a "revenge attack".

Mr Saleemy said: "The police said it's too early to try and link it to what happened in Woolwich, but those of us who were here feel that it was some sort of revenge attack. It was clear from the man's behaviour.

"We absolutely condemn what happened in Woolwich, but it had nothing to do with us.

"It was an appalling act of terror - but it wasn't "Islamic" in any way. I wish it wasn't described like that, because sadly people will now start to blame Muslims."

PA

Video: Woolwich attack and religion

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