By Ahmet Gurhan Kartal
LONDON (AA) - An Islamic center in the northern English city of Manchester was extensively damaged in a suspected arson attack late Sunday night.
The blaze at the Manchester Nasfat Islamic Centre started just before midnight and caused “significant damage,” according to emergency services.
“We were called at 11.43 pm [2243GMT] to Droylsden Road in Newton Heath to reports of a fire. We sent five pumps to the scene and an investigation is now underway,” said the Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service (GMFS).
The Greater Manchester Police have launched an investigation of the fire.
“The fire is being treated as suspicious and a joint investigation has been launched,” a statement said.
Manchester Islamic Centre branch secretary Monsurat Adebanjo-Aremu condemned the attack in a video on social media, saying she was “gutted because almost everything they had now gone.”
"Half of the main mosque was destroyed in the fire," she said.
The same facility was previously targeted in an Islamophobic attack when unidentified people threw two pigs’ heads into it during prayer, and a minibus belonging to the center was destroyed in a 2014 arson attack.
Anti-Muslim hate crime has risen significantly in 2017, especially after terror attacks in Manchester and London.