Police confirmed last night that a device found near a mosque was a crude home-made BOMB.
Investigators said a bang heard by locals in Walsall, West Mids., was consistent with the small explosive device being detonated.
They are now treating the incident as a hate crime.
It comes just days after a police officer was stabbed by a crazed Somalian Muslim at a mosque in the West Midlands.
Supt Keith Fraser of West Midlands Police said the item was still being examined and probing possible reasons for its placement close to the Muslim place of worship.
He said: “Officers are continuing to work hard to establish what the item is and how it got there but the incident is being treated as a hate crime although the motive for placing the item near to the mosque remains unclear.”
Zia ul-Haq, from the mosque said the discovery had come “out of the blue” and no threats had previously been received.
He said: “We found a suspicious item which we did not consider to be serious but as a precaution we thought that we would call the police and bring this to their attention.
“They have taken this very seriously and they have supported us whole-heartedly and we are very grateful to the police and the local authority.
“We are not suspecting anybody, we are leaving it in the good hands of the police.”
The item was planted in an alleyway adjoining Ashia Mosque on Rutter Street and caused minor damage to the surrounding area.
No-one was injured and the incident was only reported to police when a well-meaning member of the public took the device inside the Islamic community centre.
West Midlands Police said it had not unearthed a motive for the attack but it had been recorded as a hate crime.
Assistant Chief Constable Sharon Rowe said: “The force is taking this attack against the mosque very seriously and we have a major investigation underway.
“To that end, I have called in support from all over the force, including the West Midlands Counter Terrorism Unit, which has a number of experts supporting the inquiry.
“Specialist investigators have been working all day and continue to ensure that we maximise every opportunity from the crime scene.
“At this stage we are keeping an open mind on a motive, but have recorded it as a hate crime. A hate crime is any criminal act committed against a person or property that is motivated by the offender’s hatred of people because of their gender, race, religion, disability or sexual orientation.
“The investigation is being supported by officers from the neighbourhood policing team, who have local knowledge and relationships.
“If there is anyone who heard the bang on Friday evening, or saw suspicious activity on Friday or Saturday, who could help the investigation, I would urge them to come forward as soon as possible.”
The force added it believed it was an isolated incident.
Army bomb disposal experts ordered a large-scale evacuation of neighbouring properties but all 150 residents had returned home last night.
Worshippers were also allowed to enter the mosque for evening prayers.
Neighbours of a bomb scare mosque said a suspect package which sparked an evacuation alert was discovered over 24 HOURS before being reported.
Abdul Shahid, one of 150 residents ordered out of their homes yesterday morning said the item had first been found on Friday.
He said: “They found it on Friday night. It was about the size of a mobile phone and had wires coming out of it.”
Neighbours of the Aisha Mosque and Islamic Centre in Walsall, West Mids., were slowly being allowed back to their homes yesterday afternoon as police relaxed a safety cordon around the scene.
Supt Keith Fraser, of West Midlands Police, said the force was treating the discovery seriously but had not established what the package was as of yesterday afternoon.
He said: “The item is currently being examined and we are still waiting to identify exactly what it is that we have found.
“It was our first priority to make sure the area was safe early on and evacuated homes on a purely precautionary measure.
“We will open the mosque up later to reassure residents and allow worshippers to return.
“We’re not in the dark, we have trained people looking at this item but we don’t know what it is yet – I can understand the concern from the community who want to know what it is.
“It’s a shock to the local community and the force is treating this very, very seriously.”
The Mosque was also due to re-open by the end of the day.
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