Counter-terrorism police are investigating a fire at a Somali community center in north London after graffiti naming the anti-Islamic English Defence League was found on the building.
Emergency services were called to the fire, in the Muswell Hill district of the city, at 3:23 a.m. today, the capital’s Metropolitan Police said. The blaze caused “extensive damage” to the center, which is used by Somali refugees.
“The cause of the fire is currently under investigation and is being treated as suspicious at this stage,” the Met said in an e-mailed statement. “Graffiti reading EDL has been found on the building and police are investigating any potential connection between the graffiti and the fire.”
The local police commander, Chief Superintendent Adrian Usher, told reporters at the scene this afternoon that the building was not in use as a mosque, contrary to earlier descriptions. He said there was no indication of any explosion. Television pictures showed the building’s roof had collapsed.
A woman was treated for minor injuries, which were not caused by the fire, police said, without giving further details.
London Mayor Boris Johnson said he was shocked to learn of the blaze. “There is no place in an open, tolerant and diverse city like London for hate, for prejudice, for violence,” he said in a statement.