Stabbed policeman hailed hero for stopping mosque attacker

The at Washwood Heath Muslim Centre in Birmingham where three men and a police officer were stabbed
The at Washwood Heath Muslim Centre in Birmingham where three men and a police officer were stabbed
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A POLICE officer stabbed at a mosque by a man brandishing a combat knife has been praised for his “heroic” actions as he helped arrest the knifeman despite his injuries.

The unnamed West Midlands Police officer is being treated in hospital for chest and stomach injuries after the attack at the mosque in the Ward End area of Birmingham on Saturday night.

Three others were injured and a 32-year-old man, who police say is a local man believed to be of Somalian descent, has been arrested on suspicion of attempted murder.

The suspect was taken to a secure mental health facility yesterday afternoon after being deemed “unfit to be interviewed”.

Unarmed officers were called to reports that a man armed with a knife had stabbed other worshippers in the mosque and arrived four minutes later.

As the attacker came at police with the knife inside the mosque, the officer fired a taser which hit the knifeman, but it had no effect.

Speaking at the scene of the attack, Chief Superintendent Alex Murray said: “The individual stabbed the officer in the chest and in the stomach around the stab proof vest that he was wearing.

“The officer, although stabbed, and with a colleague, managed to disarm the individual and make an arrest.”

Mr Murray praised officers and those who helped inside the mosque for their “heroic” actions, saying: “There was some real brave action going on inside that mosque.”

The injured officer, who is aged 31 and from the Yardley Wood area of Birmingham, has served with West Midlands Police since 2007. His family is by his bedside as he is treated in hospital.

Mr Murray said the suspect, who was not a regular worshipper at the mosque in Washwood Heath Road, was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder.

Local residents heard screams coming from the mosque around 11pm, around the time the attack is thought to have happened, and saw people running out saying a man was inside stabbing people.

As well as the police officer, three other men were injured in the attack, two seriously. A 28-year-old man was stabbed in the arm, and a 36-year-old man was stabbed once in the thigh. A third man suffered a hand injury and is now recovering at home.

Police have been called to a number of attacks on Islamic buildings, including a petrol bombing at a mosque in Grimsby, since the brutal murder of soldier Lee Rigby in Woolwich, London.

But Mr Murray said the motivation for this weekend’s attack was still unclear and that there was “no information at this stage to suggest it was a hate crime”.

He said: “There’s no connection with any other incidents that we can see at the moment, for example, Woolwich or other incidents around the country, but we’re exploring all lines of inquiry in relation to what motivated this individual to do such a thing.

“We don’t understand the motivation of this individual. We understand he was worshipping at the mosque but he wasn’t known to the mosque. The mosque welcomed him in that evening.”

Mohammed Shafiq, the leader of national Muslim organisation the Ramadhan Foundation, said: “Our immediate thoughts are with the victims injured and their families.

“It is too early to speculate on the circumstances of the stabbings but we must be clear there should be no place for this sort of violence in our country.”

West Midlands Police said high-visibility patrols have been stepped up in the area to reassure the local community and urged people to contact the force if they have any information relating to the attack. The force will be “looking into details” as to why the Taser had no effect on the suspect.

Earlier, Liam Byrne, MP for Birmingham Hodge Hill, visited Washwood Heath Road which is in part cordoned off around the mosque. He said: “The community and the police have pulled together really quickly since the incident. What is already clear is that this was not a hate crime, this was a tragic, sad, and isolated incident.”