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Last Updated: Saturday, 12 August 2006, 14:51 GMT 15:51 UK
Police investigate mosque blaze
Albirr Masjid Mosque
About 16 firefighters tackled the blaze at the Albirr Masjid Mosque
Police are treating a fire at a mosque in Hampshire as racially motivated and have promised to act swiftly.

Emergency services were called to a blaze at a mosque in Sarum Hill, in Basingstoke, at 0330 BST on Saturday.

About 16 firefighters spent two hours tackling the blaze in the roof.

Assistant chief constable Steve Watts, of Hampshire Police, said they cannot rule out the possibility the fire was related to the recent security threat.

We cannot rule out the possibility that this incident is related to the recent security threat
Assistant chief constable Steve Watts

"If incidents such as this happen anywhere across the two counties, I can assure the public that they will be dealt with effectively and robustly," he said.

"In this current climate, we cannot rule out the possibility that this incident is related to the recent security threat.

"Therefore we are treating it extremely seriously and dealing with it appropriately."

Police officers spent Friday providing a visual presence outside the mosque during prayers after arrests were made in connection with a suspected terror plot to plant bombs on US-bound aeroplanes.

Prevent reoccurrences

Superintendent Chris Brown, the deputy commander of Hampshire's North and East Operational Command Unit, said: "We are fully investigating this incident and have put all appropriate resources into place.

"The investigation is being led by a Detective Superintendent and once we have identified the offender or offenders they will be brought in front of a court as swiftly as possible.

"We are liaising closely with the local Muslim community in Basingstoke to reassure them that our protective services are in place and of our determination to prevent reoccurrences."


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