A 75-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of causing an explosion likely to endanger life or damage property after a homemade explosive was found near to a mosque in Walsall last weekend, West Midlands Police said.
Counter-terror police are helping with a major hate crime investigation after a small home-made bomb exploded near a mosque. Around 150 people were evacuated from their homes in the Caldmore area of Walsall on Saturday night while bomb disposal experts made the device safe.
Police have stepped up patrols in Walsall to reassure the community, despite believing the planting of the device was an isolated incident.
West Midlands Police said it is taking the home-made explosive device found at a Walsall mosque "very seriously" and that a "major investigation" is underway.
Assistant Chief Constable Sharon Rowe said she has called in support "from all over the force", including the West Midlands Counter Terrorism Unit.
She said: "At this stage we are keeping an open mind on a motive, but have recorded it as a hate crime.
"A hate crime is any criminal act committed against a person or property that is motivated by the offender’s hatred of people because of their gender, race, religion, disability or sexual orientation.
“If there is anyone who heard the bang on Friday evening, or saw suspicious activity on Friday or Saturday, who could help the investigation, I would urge them to come forward as soon as possible".
West Midlands Police confirmed the suspicious package found at a Walsall mosque was a home-made explosive device:
BREAKING (1/2): Suspicious package found outside Walsall mosque confirmed as a home-made explosive device. http://t.co/drwEpONTAD
BREAKING (2/2): Enquiries reveal bang heard on Friday evening appears to be consistent with device going off. http://t.co/drwEpONTAD
West Midlands Police has confirmed that the suspicious package found at a mosque in Walsall is a bomb.
– Assistant Chief Constable Sharon Rowe, West Midlands Police
The force is taking this attack against the mosque very seriously and we have a major investigation underway.
At this stage we are keeping an open mind on a motive, but have recorded it as a hate crime.
West Midlands Police have confirmed that an item found by a mosque in Walsall has been 'made safe' and is being examined by technical experts.
– Superintendent Keith Fraser, the Head of Crime and Operations for Walsall Police
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.
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. I would ask that we keep things in perspective.
West Midland Police have confirmed they are treating the discovery of a suspicious item near a mosque in Walsall as a hate crime.
Superintendant Keith Fraser said "the incident was being treated as hate crime but the motive for placing the item near a mosque remained unclear".
– Superintendent Keith Fraser, West Midlands Police
The item is currently being examined and we are still waiting to identify exactly what it is that we have found.
It was our first priority to make sure the area was safe early on and evacuated homes on a purely precautionary measure.
We will open the mosque up later to reassure residents and allow worshippers to return.
We're not in the dark we have trained people looking at this item be we don't know what it is yet - I can understand the concern from the community who want to know what it is.
It's a shock to the local community and the force is treating this very, very seriously.
@walsallcouncil confirming that 150 people were evacuated but vast majority have returned to their homes .
We are working towards re-opening the mosque and the road shortly and will keep you updated.
Supt Keith Fraser - all lines of enquiry will be investigated and we are keeping an open mind about what has happened here.
Supt Keith Fraser - Would not be helpful to speculate on what the item is at this stage as our investigations continue.
Supt Keith Fraser " Cordon now being reduced, we are returning residents to their homes"