Friday, February 12, 2010

Gunman targets Canning Mosque

Gunman targets Canning Mosque

  • Nicole Cox, police reporter
  • From: PerthNow
  • February 10, 2010 2:49PM

pn news canning mosque

SHOTS FIRED: Police are investigating a shooting at Canning Mosque where several bullets were fired into the roof of the building last Thursday. Picture: Kerris Berrington Source: PerthNow

POLICE are hunting a gunman who fired up to three bullets into a Perth mosque, but detectives have played down suggestions the incident may be racially motivated.

Today, police revealed that the Canning Mosque in Queens Park had been peppered with three shots in the early hours of last Thursday morning, damaging the main roof dome.

Officers were called to the mosque, at the corner of Welshpool and Treasure roads, at 12.55am after reports of gunshots being heard. No one was at the mosque at the time of the shooting.

``At this stage, it does not appear to be racially motivated, however police are keeping an open mind,'' Detective First Class Constable Steve Flanagan said.

``We have no indication to say that it is racially motivated. We are not sure how it happened at this stage. It could just be someone shooting at birds, then again it could be something far more serious.

``Our main concern is that someone has fired shots in a suburban area.''

Det Flanaghan said no other buildings in the vicinity had been shot and police were not aware of any threats against the mosque or its congregation.

Police were awaiting a full ballistics report, initial assessments showed the bullet holes may have been caused by a rifle, he said.

Turkish Islamic Association of WA president Huseyin Aksakal said the mosque and its congregation were well known and respected in the community and he hoped the incident was not racially or religiously driven.

But Mr Aksakal said the committee had warned members of the congregation to be mindful of their general safety.

``Obviously everyone feels upset and it's not a good thing,'' he said.

``It is a serious thing, gun shots, but we believe it's not racial or something to do with our religion. I hope it's not anyway.

``We are not going to get the community to be alarmed by it because no one was here at the time.''

Det Flanaghan could not say why it had taken police six days to go public about the firearms attack, other than detectives had an ``an investigation process to follow'' and had been liaising with the police forensics and ballistics units.

It comes after a similar attack at a Mirrabooka mosque in September 2006, which missed a woman's face by millimetres during an evening prayer service.

A bullet holed an upstairs window, passed through a narrow gap between two women's shoulders and hit a wall in a room where 100 women and children were praying during the holy month of Ramadan.

At the time, police believed the shot, from a high-powered rifle, possibly a 7.62mm calibre, was fired from the opposite side of Boyare Ave. It travelled almost 80m before penetrating the window and lodging in an interior brick wall.

Anyone who may have witnessed the Canning Mosque shooting or suspicious behaviour in the area about that time, is urged to call Crime Stoppers 1800 333 000.

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