London: Four persons, including a police officer, were stabbed inside a mosque in the British city of Birmingham over an argument.
A 32-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder following the incident last night.
The officer was wounded as police arrested the man and all four injured are in a stable condition in hospital, West Midlands Police said today.
"Police were called at 11pm on Saturday night to a mosque in Washwood Heath Road, Ward End, to reports of three men with stab wounds. Officers arrived at the incident and whilst the man was being detained, one police officer also suffered a stab wound," a spokesperson said.
Initial reports suggest an argument may have taken place inside the mosque prior to the attack. The incident began during the final prayer session of the evening.
Eyewitnesses report that a man of Somali appearance began attacking worshippers with a machete.
"I have spoken to someone who lives a few doors down from the mosque and they described hearing an argument between some of the people inside the mosque. It escalated into violence and a police officer has been stabbed.
People, anti-Muslim extremists, are going to try to take advantage of this it`s very serious that a police officer has been stabbed during duty," said Mohammed Shafiq, the leader of national Muslim organisation the Ramadhan Foundation.
Police officers were today conducting patrols in the area surrounding the mosque to reassure local residents. A cordon is in place while investigations continue at the Washwood Heath Muslim Centre in Ward End and police are investigating whether the attack was a hate crime.
Birmingham Hodge Hill MP Liam Byrne, who has visited the scene, said: "Police and the community have been working together through the night and early this morning and what`s very clear is that this is a sad, tragic and isolated incident. It`s not a hate crime. What`s really important now is that everybody stays very calm and we let the wheels of justice turn."