Ilford Mosque Shooting: "Masked" Gunman Fires Shot Outside East London Mosque

10 May 2019, 07:08 | Updated: 10 May 2019, 08:12

The east London mosque.
The east London mosque. Picture: Google Streetview

Armed police rushed to an east London mosque after a masked gunman discharged a firearm outside during Ramadan prayers.

Police responded to the Seven Kings Mosque after reports of a man with a firearm entering the building in Ilford on Thursday night.

The mosque's imam Mufti Suhail said: "The suspect ran from the scene when stopped by brothers standing guard at the mosque.

"A shot was fired which fortunately did not hit anyone."

On Thursday morning police said officers had "carried out a number of fast-time enquiries" and that detectives now believe that the incident may have "stemmed from an earlier incident in the street close to the mosque."

Detectives from the Trident gang crime unit are leading the investigation and that they did not believe the incident was terror related and there were no injuries or damage sustained.

Ballistic evidence recovered from the scene suggested the weapon was a "blank firing handgun," police said.

Wasim Mahmood was in the mosque when it happened and told LBC: "I was performing my prayers and suddenly I heard a loud bang.

"I didn't think too much of it until I finished my prayers. I finished and turned around to go outside and saw lots of armed police, who told me they had reports somebody had a gun with them.

"The loud bang was a shot fired inside the mosque, in the ground floor, in the washroom. Luckily, the management of the mosque managed to chase them out."

A diverse range of male worshippers use the mosque, including men of Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Indian and North African heritage, the imam said.

Funding for the security of religious premises was upped following the March Christchurch attacks, where 50 people were killed in a shooting in a New Zealand mosque.

In April, churches in Sri Lanka were targeted on Easter Sunday in a terror attack which killed at least 253 people.

A week later, a woman was killed when a gunman opened fire at a synagogue in California.

Witness to the Seven Kings incident, Mr Hussain, an apprentice data analyst, said the Christchurch incident left him concerned over the safety of worshippers during Ramadan.

"The main thing that was in my mind was that (due to the layout of the mosque) it could have gone very wrong," he said.

"(Christchurch) comes to mind, it's crazy to think this would happen in London, especially after everything that has happened.

"Another thing that is quite worrying is that the guy was on foot, so he could be in the surrounding area still.

"A lot of people - loads and loads of Muslims - were in that area in traditional garments so they could be targets, although we don't know what the aim was."

A Met Police spokesperson said: "Officers will continue to work closely with representatives from the mosque and are providing reassurance to the local community."