TIPTON - In an escalation of anti-mosque attacks in the UK, a nail bomb has exploded outside a Tipton mosque in the West Midlands after Friday prayer, the attack dubbed by the British police as an act of terrorism.
"We express our deep shock and utter dismay regarding the incident that has occurred this afternoon, a joint statement by the board of trustees and management committee of the Kanz Ul Iman Masjid mosque was quoted by the BBC on Friday, July 13.
"On behalf of the local community, we condemn this senseless and mindless act.
It's a blessing from God that thankfully no-one was injured in the blast.
Occurring at about 13:00 BST, the explosion left nails and debris strewn outside Kanz Ul Iman mosque.
The attack was believed to be targeting Muslim worshippers during Friday prayer, which was accidently shifted an hour earlier in Ramadan.
Shopkeeper Sadarat Khan said he was coming out of a local chemist when he heard a "bomb blast".
"They [the police] didn't seem to be bothered too much... It took them about 40 minutes to evacuate the place," he said.
"People were terrified and very scared and shaken."
Resident Raja Khan, who heard the blast as well, said a device was found on a wall on the disused railway line at the back of the mosque.
"A few kids came out shouting, 'bomb, bomb'. There were branches that came off trees all over the place."
He said he went to the mosque fearing there would be casualties.
"If it had been when prayers were going on there would've been 300 to 400 people there. There were about 22 to 25 people I think at the time.
"People are terrified for their kids, myself included."
Counter terrorism officers were called in and the surrounding area was closed off for several hours.
"I did tell the police there to evacuate the area, please for god's sake - there were nails all over the place," a nearby shopkeeper said.
Act of Terrorism'
Targeting Muslim worshippers during prayers, the attack was dubbed by the British police as an act of terrorism.
Whoever was responsible "wanted to cause serious harm," Asst Ch Con Gareth Cann said.
"I can't say for sure it was directed at the mosque, but from what we've seen this seems to be the most likely option," he said.
Local councillor Ian Jones said he was "very shocked" by what had happened.
He told BBC WM it could not "go unnoticed" that the incident happened on the same day of the funeral of Fusilier Lee Rigby, who was killed in Woolwich in May.
Councilor Syeda Amina Khatun said she was not aware of any previous attacks on the mosque.
"The whole estate has been blocked off. People are surprised that something like this has happened," she said.
Yet, West Midlands Police were still investigating an explosion near a mosque in the Caldmore area of Walsall on June 21.
The remains of a home-made explosive device were found on June 22 in an alleyway adjoining the Aisha Mosque and Islamic Centre in Rutter Street.
The earlier incident, in which no one was injured, forced the overnight evacuation of around 150 people from their homes in the surrounding area.
A recent research by The Independent showed that between 40 and 60 per cent of mosques and other Islamic centers (around 700) had been targeted since 9/11.
The number of anti-Islamic attacks has increased as much as tenfold in the days that followed the Woolwich murder of Drummer Lee Rigby.
Tell Mama project, which monitors anti-Muslim attacks in Britain, has also reported 212 anti-Muslim incidents after the Woolwich attack.
The figure included 11 attacks on mosques, in a series manifestation of anti-Muslim sentiments.
In the midst of rising anti-Muslim attacks, Muslims urged the British community to stand united against this have wave.
"We call for calm and strongly urge the community not to let this incident divide us and cause disharmony, the joint statement by the board of trustees and management committee of the Kanz Ul Iman Masjid mosque said.
"We stand united, stand together in the aftermath of this mindless act."