Homes evacuated after “suspicious” package found in mosque

Aisha Mosque and Islamic Centre in Walsall

39 homes have been evacuated after a suspicious item was found in a West Midlands mosque yesterday night.

Army bomb disposal experts were called to Aisha Mosque and Islamic Centre on Rutter Street, Walsall last night after Isha prayers around 10.45pm when a suspicious package that looked like a bomb was found by one of the worshipers.

39 homes including the mosque have been evacuated for safety measures. The residents who were evacuated were taken to Walsall Town Hall.

Police officers attended the scene of the crime and immediately cordoned off the area around the mosque. Police, emergency services and the army bomb disposal team were in the Caldmore area of Walsall this morning.

Local resident Zubi Ahmed who lives directly behind the mosque said: “Yesterday, before Isha salaat, one of the regular elderly worshipers found a suspicious item which he assumed at the time to be a bomb.

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“The mosque informed the authorities and the army bomb experts were brought in to deal with the package.”

The immediate evacuation of 39 homes was ordered for safety measures and was “precautionary and temporary” while a further examination of the item took place.

A West Midlands Police spokesman said: “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. Local officers remain at the scene and are talking to local people to keep them up-to-date and offer reassurance.”

Walsall Council has been working with the emergency services to support the members of the community that have been affected by the evacuation and to minimise local disruption.

Anyone with information which may help was asked to call West Midlands Police.

A 40-metre section of the road remained cordoned off this morning and two uniformed army personnel were guarding the perimeter.

Local reaction

When 5 Pillarz asked Mr Ahmed what the local Muslims were feeling and who they suspected he said: “At the moment the community is worried and shocked but they’re not sure who to shift the blame on.”

He said many are assuming it’s a right-wing group but there’s not much support for them in Walsall or any concrete evidence to suggest it was them.

He added: “However, local Muslims are connecting this incident with the Woolwich attack and are saying that if the Woolwich murder didn’t happen then we would all be safe. I disagree with this as many Islamophobic attacks were happening before the Woolwich incident.”

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