Counter-terror police have been called in and an arrest has been made after a man was set on fire as he walked home from a mosque in Birmingham last night.
West Midlands Police say the victim was returning from Dudley Road mosque when he was approached by a man just after 7pm on Monday.
They said he spoke to him briefly before spraying him with an unknown substance. His jacket was then set alight, causing burns to his face.
He was taken to the hospital with serious injuries which are not believed to be life threatening.
This afternoon, a man was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder. Police said he had been identified by officers who were in the area carrying out inquiries following last night’s attack. He remains in custody.
Meanwhile, West Midlands Police said they were aware of a similar incident in the Ealing area of London and are working with the Metropolitan Police to see whether the two attacks are linked.
In that incident an elderly man was set on fire and left with severe burns, prompting a police manhunt.
The attack happened at 8pm on Monday after the suspect engaged the victim in conversation as they both left the West London Islamic Centre in Ealing.
They spoke for about five minutes when the suspect doused the victim in a liquid, believed to be petrol, before setting him alight using a lighter. He then walked away.
Regarding the Birmingham incident Chief Supt Richard North, Commander at Birmingham police, said: “Our officers have been working through the night to establish what happened and who is responsible.
“We are taking this matter extremely seriously and are using all resources available to us.
“We are keeping an open mind to the motive of the attacker and we won’t speculate further at this stage.
“We’re examining CCTV and speaking to witnesses.
“I’ve been speaking to people this morning, and so I know just how concerned they are and that people are after answers.
“We are determined to get those answers as soon as possible, and I’d urge the community to work with us and to avoid any speculation at this stage.”
Extra officers are in the area today to speak to the community and to provide reassurance, police said.
Chief Supt Richard North continued: “Our investigation continues with support from Counter Terrorism Policing West Midlands CTU who have access to specialist capabilities to help establish the full circumstances surrounding the incident.
“We have officers patrolling the local area to reassure people and we are visiting local faith establishments to keep them informed.”
Regarding the Ealing incident, Detective Sergeant Steven Constable, said: “I know this will be an incredibly shocking incident for the community and we are carrying out a full investigation into what happened.
“Understandably, there is a great deal of local concern in the wake of this incident and local officers have been carrying out reassurance patrols daily at the mosque.
“We are continuing to work alongside the West London Islamic Centre who have been very supportive of our investigation and have been assisting us with our enquiries.”
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