Police probe after gun fired outside London mosque
The main entrance of an east London mosque remains closed as police investigate an incident during which a blank-firing gun was apparently discharged outside.
A side door of the Seven Kings Mosque in Ilford has been reopened for worshippers to use but an officer at the scene said it was unlikely the mosque would reopen fully until Friday night or Saturday morning.
A masked man is reported to have entered the mosque on High Road, but was made to leave before firing the gun.
Scotland Yard said no-one was hurt and early investigations suggested a “blank-firing handgun” had been discharged.
Detectives said the incident may have stemmed from something that happened nearby earlier and was not being treated as terrorism related.
Armed police were scrambled to the mosque amid reports that a masked gunman had entered the building during Ramadan prayers.
Sadiq Kothia, a local councillor who was in the congregation on Thursday night, said: “I was praying inside there. Very few people saw what happened.
“It happened so fast and so quickly, so at this moment in time it’s important the community is reassured and feels safe. It’s the first Friday of Ramadan, so it will be busy.”
Worshipper Ibraheem Hussain, 19, described hearing the gunshot around half an hour after prayers began.
He said: “We were upstairs in the classrooms and about 30 minutes into the night prayer a large noise went off.
“I just continued my prayer, it sounded like a firework or maybe something heavy had been dropped, so no-one really thought anything of it.
“After we finished, we were leaving the shoe area and someone said it was a gunshot, someone had come into the mosque and he had a firearm on him.
“The managers had seen him, he was masked and acting suspicious and the firearm was let off.”
The incident comes amid heightened concerns over security at places of worship around the world following recent attacks in New Zealand, Sri Lanka and the US.
Mr Hussain, an apprentice data analyst at one of the Big Four City firms, said the incident left him concerned over the safety of worshippers during Ramadan.
“(Christchurch) comes to mind, it’s crazy to think this would happen in London, especially after everything that has happened.”
Following the incident, the mosque’s imam urged people not to speculate over the gunman’s motives.
“There was a firearm incident outside Seven Kings Mosque tonight during Ramadan night prayers,” Mufti Suhail said.
“The suspect ran from the scene when stopped by brothers standing guard at the mosque.”
Scotland Yard said the investigation was being led by detectives from the East Area Command Unit, although the Trident gang squad had been notified.
It added: “At this early stage, ballistic evidence recovered from the scene suggests that the weapon was a blank-firing handgun.
“Officers will continue to work closely with representatives from the mosque and are providing reassurance to the local community.”