:: Peoples Time Online ::
Five mosques in Birmingham have been targeted in a string of violent attacks overnight and into the morning.
Police responded to reports of a man smashing windows with a sledgehammer at a mosque in Birchfield Road at 2.32am (local time), but when they arrived at the scene they discovered the attack had taken place some time earlier.
Around 42 minutes later, police were alerted to a similar attack at a mosque in Slade Road, Erdington.
Patrols were stepped up across the city and officers discovered further damage at places of worship in Witton Road, Aston, and on Broadway in Perry Barr.
A further investigation was launched after pictures emerged on social media showing smashed windows at the Mosque and Muslim Community Centre in Albert Road, Aston.
The motive behind the attacks remains unknown but West Midlands Police said it is believed they are linked.
The force said forensic teams are at the scenes collecting evidence and officers are examining CCTV in the areas.
West Midlands Counter-Terrorism Unit is also involved in the investigation.
“This is a city built on tolerance and I’m proud of the fact that everyone is accepted in Birmingham regardless of race, religion, gender or sexuality,” he said.
“As we saw with last week’s tragic events in Christchurch, Islamophobia is a poison that cannot go unchallenged.
“As a city it is important that we call out discrimination and intolerance in any form and we will continue to do so.”
The city council’s community safety boss, Councillor John Cotton, tweeted: “Appalled to see that Birmingham mosques have been the target of vandalism and violence overnight.
“These thugs do not speak for Birmingham & will not divide us.”
West Midlands Police Chief Constable Dave Thompson said: “Since the tragic events in Christchurch, New Zealand, officers and staff from West Midlands Police have been working closely with our faith partners across the region to offer reassurance and support at mosques, churches and places of prayer.
“At the moment we don’t know the motive for last night’s attacks.
“What I can say is that the force and the Counter-Terrorism Unit are working side-by-side to find whoever is responsible.
“At difficult times like this, it is incredibly important that everyone unites against those who seek to create discord, uncertainty and fear in our communities.”
Anyone with information can contact police via Live Chat between 8am and midnight, or call 101, or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.