London: Scotland Yard has launched an investigation after a gunshot was fired outside a mosque in east London during Ramadan prayers on Thursday evening.
The Metropolitan Police said the firearm discharge at Seven Kings Masjid in Ilford is believed to be related to a previous altercation and is not being treated as an Islamophobic hate crime or terror-related incident.
The Met Police’s firearms officers attended the scene and confirmed there were no reported injuries or damage to the building.
At this early stage, ballistic evidence recovered from the scene suggests that the weapon was a blank firing handgun. Officers from Trident Specialist Crime investigate. There have been no arrests and enquiries continue, a Met Police statement said.
It said that the incident may have stemmed from an earlier altercation in the street.
Initial enquiries indicated that the incident may have stemmed from an earlier altercation in the street close to the mosque. Officers continue to work closely with representatives from the mosque and are providing reassurance to the local community, the statement noted.
Officers were called to the mosque at 22.45 local time to reports that a man, believed to be in possession of a firearm, had entered a mosque on High Road in Seven Kings, east London.
The man was ushered outside of the building by those inside and a gunshot was then heard later.
I am in close contact with the Met Police Commissioner about this incident at Seven Kings Mosque, and relieved to hear that nobody was injured, London Mayor Sadiq Khan said in a Twitter statement.
Everyone should be free to practice their faith free from danger and fear. An increased police presence remains on the scene, he said.
The incident comes as the Met Police have issued statements to reassure Britain’s Muslim communities to coincide with Ramadan and encouraged them to attend their local mosques without fear.
In the wake of terrorist attacks at a mosque in New Zealand in March and at a church in Sri Lanka last month, the Metropolitan Police said it had reinforced safety measures at all places of worship across the British capital.
Commander Mark McEwan, the Met Police’s lead for Inclusion and Engagement, said: Ramadan is a very special time of the year for our Muslim community living and visiting London; a city known for its multiculturalism and acceptance of different faiths and religions.
For most people in the Muslim community it is the most significant event of the year and one of reflection and humility.
Anyone attending a place of worship, irrespective of their faith, should feel safe to do so.
McEwan also advised members of the Muslim community to report if they are victims of Islamophobic hate crime and help the force tackle the problem.
The Met is committed to tackling hate crime in all its forms, including Islamophobia. By taking robust action against perpetrators and working in partnership with external agencies, we can provide support and guidance to victims, protect communities from those who commit such offences and prevent re-victimisation,”he said.
During Ramadan if you are a victim of hate crime or feel persecuted please contact the police as soon as possible, he added.
Since the recent terrorist attacks around the world, officers from the Met Police Protective Security Operations Command said they have visited a number of faith venues and attended faith events in London to provide community leaders and those running establishments with protective security advice.
Officers provided staff with advice including what to do if they find a suspicious package, how to make the buildings more secure, how to identify suspicious behaviour and what to do in the event of a terrorist incident.
Terrorists want to create division and a culture of fear, they want to stop people from continuing life as normal. If you are going to a place of worship, be it a mosque, church, synagogue or anywhere else, my advice is to be alert but not alarmed,”said Chief Superintendent Dawn Morris, head of the Met Police Protective Security Operations Command, which leads on counter-terrorism security for London. (PTI)