Armed police search mosque in London after man dies in stabbing nearby
Armed police sealed off a mosque in London as part of a hunt for the attackers of a man who was killed in a stabbing in a nearby street.
The Metropolitan Police said the victim, who was believed to be in his early 20s, was found with stab wounds in Elmton Court, Cunningham Place, Westminster, at about 6.15pm on Thursday.
He was treated at the scene by paramedics from London Ambulance Service paramedics but later died in hospital, the force said.
A Met Police spokeswoman confirmed the search at the nearby London Central Mosque, in Regent's Park, was linked to the stabbing.
Witnesses claimed they saw two men being detained in handcuffs but the Met said no arrests had been made and officers continued to hunt the suspects.
The force tweeted that the attack was not terror-related.
Armed officers could be seen searching stairwells and the outside area at the back of the mosque – including one part of the building under a large patio – at well past 11pm.
At about 11.30pm, the cordons around the mosque were moved and roads re-opened, and armed officers could also be seen leaving the scene.
The force said: "Cordons include the nearby London Central Mosque. These cordons are likely to remain in place overnight."
Video from outside the mosque shared on social media showed armed police at the gates to the mosque as a helicopter circled overhead.
All staff and attendees to the Mosque are safe our prayers are with the victim and his family. we look forward to seeing you all at Friday prayers tomorrow In Sha Allah— LondonCentral Mosque (@iccukorg) March 28, 2019
A statement from the London Central Mosque Twitter account shortly before 10.30pm said nobody there was hurt.
"All staff and attendees to the Mosque are safe our prayers are with the victim and his family. We look forward to seeing you all at Friday prayers tomorrow In Sha Allah," it said.
Another added: "An incident occurred this evening near Lord's Cricket Ground where a victim of knife crime was sadly murdered.
"Suspects were seen running towards the London Central Mosque and Regent's Park area.
"The police cordoned off the surroundings near the Mosque in order to conduct a search."
Witness Bahir Moulana told the Press Association that as he was walking towards the mosque, the police were pushing people back before they closed the main gate.
With a number of armed officers at the scene, the 39-year-old said it gave him the "jitters", especially following the recent attack at two mosques in New Zealand.
"I saw all the blue lights and my heart was in my mouth," Mr Moulana said.
With worshippers eventually let out of the building, he added: "There was one girl who said she saw two guys run in. Someone else told me the police were chasing them."
Mr Moulana said he saw two people being detained and put in handcuffs by police at the mosque.
"The police just surrounded them. I saw that at around 7pm," he added.
At the scene in Cunningham Place, a large collection of used and discarded medical equipment, bloodied bandages, bags, and other items could be seen in the middle of the road.
One neighbour, who did not want to be named, told the Press Association: "I looked out of the window at around 6.30pm and I saw him on the floor... he was already getting CPR."
She added that before the incident she heard someone saying "What happened? What have you done?" before she then went to see what was going on.
The Labour MP for Westminster North, Karen Buck, said on Twitter: "Deeply saddened to hear this awful news. Police have been in contact with me and we await further details."
Police said a post-mortem examination and formal identification of the victim would be arranged in due course.