UK mosque severely damaged in suspected arson attack

London: A mosque in the British city of Manchester has been severely damaged in a suspected arson attack, police said on Monday.

Five fire engines tackled the blaze at the Nasfat Manchester Islamic Centre on Droylsden Road in the northern England city and Greater Manchester Police (GMP) said they are treating Sunday’s incident as “suspicious”.

“We sent five pumps to the scene and an investigation is now underway. The fire is being treated as suspicious and a joint investigation has been launched by GMP and GMFRS (Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service),” a GMP statement said on Monday.

Nasfat (Nasrul-Lahi-l-Fathi Society of Nigeria) opened up in Manchester as a mosque and Islamic centre in 2009 and it has about 300 members.

“It has been seriously damaged — the police will not let us in. We don’t know why this happened. We try to be good neighbours and we try to be involved with our local community,” said mosque spokesperson Shamusideen Oladimeji.

Monsurat Adebanjo-Aremu, the secretary of the centre, told Manchester Evening News that Sunday’s fire was the third such major fire incident in a year. She said people have also urinated outside.

The mosque has previously been targeted with two pigs’ heads thrown into the building while people were praying and a minibus was destroyed in an arson attack in 2014.

In the latest attack, pictures from the scene show flames erupting from the roof of the single-storey building.

No one was present inside the centre during the incident.

–With inputs from PTI