Police confirm they are treating the suspicious item as a hate crime

Bomb disposal team is called to mosque in Walsall after suspicious item discovered

Residents say an explosion was heard on Friday evening before the item was discovered on Saturday

Police examining a suspicious item found in a Walsall mosque have confirmed they are treating the incident as a hate crime.

A police spokesperson said an explosion was heard by residents on Friday evening. On Saturday, the item was discovered by a member of the public and handed into the police.

Superintendent Keith Fraser, the head of crime and operations for Walsall Police, said the incident was being treated as hate crime but the motive for placing the item near a mosque remained unclear.

Army experts ordered the evacuation of nearly 40 homes near the Rutter Street mosque in Walsall, West Midlands Police said.

Speaking at the scene, Mr Fraser said: “At around 10.15pm on Saturday police were called to Aisha mosque in relation to a suspicious item that had been found.

"The force are taking this extremely seriously.

“We have launched a full investigation into the suspicious item that has been found, and what's going to be the key to this is the public's help in relation to helping us to understand why that suspicious item was in the area.

”So if anybody saw anything over the weekend I'd like them to call police on 101 or Crimestoppers 0800 555 111."

Mr Fraser, who confirmed that the suspicious item was being examined by trained experts, also appealed for the media not to speculate about what had been found.

The officer added: "Obviously there are going to be a number of hypotheses around this suspicious item, what I would ask is that we work with what we know at the moment.

“The investigation is at a very, very early stage.

“Hypotheses which raise people's concern about what may or may not have happened would not be helpful at this stage."

Earlier, a police spokesman said the item was discovered in the grounds of the mosque by the member of the public before being taken inside the building.

The spokesman stressed that the evacuation of homes was a “precautionary and temporary” measure, and added: “Officers were immediately dispatched and cordoned off an area around the building.

”Army bomb disposal experts are currently at the scene and have this morning ordered the evacuation of around 39 homes in the immediate vicinity of the mosque.

“People in the affected area and who are unable to make alternative arrangements are being taken to Walsall Town Hall, where they will be cared for.

”Officers are continuing to work hard to establish what the item is and how it got there."

Meanwhile, local officers remain at the scene and are talking to residents to keep them up-to-date with the incident and offer reassurance.

Officials from Walsall Council are working closely with the emergency services to support local people and minimise disruption in the area.

Zahid Ali, Cabinet Member for Public Protection at Walsall Council, also spoke outside the mosque.

Cllr Ali said: "In terms of the local authority's position, we have executed the procedures that we normally use for any emergency planning.

"We have taken the residents living within the immediate vicinity of the area into the council's civic offices and premises.

"We have put in comprehensive support for them, including food and whatever other support they require."

Describing the incident as "unfortunate", Mr Ali added: "It's absolutely wonderful to see that the communities have come together supporting the residents, and most of those residents are now back in their homes."

Zia Ul-Haq, who acts as a spokesman for the mosque and also sits on its committee, said: "First of all can I thank the police force and the local council for really supporting us on this occasion.

"We found this suspicious item which we didn't consider to be very serious or very threatening, but as a precaution we thought that we would call the police and bring this to their attention.

"They have taken this very seriously and they have supported us whole-heartedly and we are very grateful to the police and the local authority.

"We are not suspecting anybody, we are leaving it in the good hands of the police."

Additional reporting by PA

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Ecommerce Manager

£45000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity is available to ...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service / Administrator - Spanish Speaking

£16000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This world leading specialist i...

Recruitment Genius: Regional Support Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This role's responsibility also include operat...

Recruitment Genius: Field Engineer - Northern Home Counties

£27000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Their revenue and profit have g...

Day In a Page

Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test
Tour de France 2015: Twins Simon and Adam Yates have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

Twins have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

Yates brothers will target the steepest sections in bid to win a stage in France
John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

Forget little green men

Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

Dying dream of Doctor Death

Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy