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UK police arrest 2 men over mosque blasts

July 18, 2013

LONDON (AP) — British counterterrorism police are questioning two eastern European men in connection with two explosions near mosques in central England in recent weeks.

No injuries were reported in either blast, which came amid heightened religious tensions in the U.K. over the killing of a British soldier by suspected Islamic extremists.

West Midlands Police said Thursday that a 25-year-old man and a 22-year-old man were arrested under the Terrorism Act in relation to the two blasts.

The first explosion occurred near the Aisha Mosque and Islamic Center in Walsall on June 21, and the second blast near the Kanz-ul-Iman Muslim Welfare Association Central Jamia mosque in the town of Tipton on July 12.

On Thursday, police said officers are carrying out a search in the area where the men were detained and have evacuated some properties as a precaution. Army bomb disposal experts are at the scene, the force added.

Police also evacuated a mosque in Wolverhampton, saying “new information” had been received in light of the Walsall and Tipson inquiries regarding a possible “device activation” on June 28 at the Wolverhampton Central Mosque. Police did not provide further details, saying only that a military bomb disposal team was en route.

West Midlands Police have stepped up patrols following the Walsall and Tipson blasts.

The Tipton blast came on the same day as the funeral of soldier Lee Rigby, who was killed in broad daylight by alleged Islamic extremists on a London street. That attack in May triggered a spike in religious tensions in subsequent weeks.

Update hourly