Four men including a police officer have been taken to hospital after being stabbed in a mosque in Birmingham.
The police constable was responding to reports that three men had been stabbed inside the Washwood Heath Muslim Centre in the Ward End area of the city when he was attacked.
Reports suggest an argument may have broken out between members inside the building prior to the attack.
The four victims are being treated in hospital for their injuries. They are all said to be “stable”.
A 32-year-old man, believed to be of Somali origin, has been arrested on suspicion of attempted murder and is currently in custody.
Worshipper Arshad Mahmood witnessed the attack and tried to restrain the knifeman.
He told Sky News: “Everyone was frightened you know, it was so sudden and he had a proper knife with him.
“A few of us we went to stop him, one of the guys was strong enough to stop him. Then I held his hand – the guy who also tried to stop him had an injury on his thigh.
“After a few minutes, a police officer came and he also attacked the police officer.”
Mohammed Shafiq, the leader of national Muslim organisation the Ramadhan Foundation, said a nearby resident overheard an argument coming from inside the mosque and believes it followed a dispute between members.
He said: “I have spoken to someone who lives a few doors down from the mosque and they described hearing an argument between some of the people inside the mosque.
“It escalated into violence and a police officer has been stabbed.”
A West Midlands Police spokeswoman said: “Police were called at 11pm on Saturday night to a mosque in Washwood Heath Road, Ward End, to reports of three men with stab wounds.
“Officers arrived at the incident and whilst the man was being detained, one police officer suffered a stab wound.
“The three people and the officer have been taken to hospital, all are currently described as stable.”
Officers are investigating whether the attack was a hate crime.
“We don’t know at the moment, it’s very early stages in the inquiry,” the spokeswoman said. “We can’t rule anything out at the moment.”
Mr Shafiq said: “People, anti-Muslim extremists, are going to try to take advantage of this – it’s very serious that a police officer has been stabbed during duty.
“The aftermath of the brutal murder of Lee Rigby has led to an increase of attacks.
“The involvement of a police officer in this incident obviously causes more concern.”
Officers were conducting patrols in the area in a bid to reassure local people. A cordon is in place while investigations continue at the mosque.
A number of mosques have been targeted since the murder of Drummer Lee Rigby close to his barracks in Woolwich, south London, last month.
The killing also sparked a large increase in anti-Muslim incidents in the days that followed, according to the organisation Faith Matters, which works to reduce extremism.
In what were believed to be reprisal attacks, the Islamic Somali Community Centre in Muswell Hill, north London, was burnt to the ground while the Grimsby Islamic Cultural Centre was also targeted by arsonists who threw petrol bombs.
Last week, Muslim groups called on authorities to take serious action against the wave of anti-Islamic attacks.
in London, Metropolitan Police Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe responded by saying extra resources would be deployed to sites deemed to be “at greatest risk”.