THERE will be 24-hour police patrols at certain Islamic sites in London following another suspicious fire, according to the Metropolitan Police.
Detectives are investigating whether a fire at an Islamic boarding school late on Saturday was started deliberately.
Almost 130 pupils and staff were evacuated from the Darul Uloom Islamic School in Chislehurst, south-east London, as teachers moved quickly to extinguish the flames.
Minor damage was caused to the school, but two boys suffered smoke inhalation. Police said the fire was being treated as suspicious.
An increased police presence had been put in place around potentially “vulnerable” locations, Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe said last night.
The school blaze broke out days after an Islamic centre in Muswell Hill burned to the ground amid allegations it was a racist attack. The building was daubed with the letters “EDL”, apparently referencing the English Defence League.
The fire prompted fears that it was a reprisal attack in the wake of themurder in Woolwich of Drummer Lee Rigby.
Last night, Mr Hogan-Howe said: “These are difficult times for London’s communities.
“The Met is now investigating suspicious fires at two locations within the Islamic community which have happened in the past few days. Fortunately, no-one has been hurt, but we know that fires can often prove fatal.
“So I want to reassure people that we are using our full range of policing tactics to protect sites that might be vulnerable.
“In all boroughs across London, there is an increased police presence around locations that might be at risk. We will maintain a 24/7 guard of uniformed officers at sites we consider to be at greatest risk.”
The Met Commissioner added: “We should not allow the murder of Lee Rigby to come between Londoners. The unified response we have seen to his death across all communities will triumph over those who seek to divide us.”
Detective Chief Superintendent Steph Roberts, Bromley borough commander, appealed for calm and urged people not to speculate on the cause of the school fire.
School principal Mustafa Musa said intruders had started the fire in the teaching area just before midnight, but did not say how it was started or if the culprits had broken in.
He said: “We would like to show our appreciation to the police, fire and ambulance services and well-wishers who have offered support.
“Initially, the staff extinguished the fire and evacuated the students to safety. Two boys suffered smoke inhalation injuries, but thank God they are recovering.
“We are part of the British community and are deeply saddened by the events that have taken place.”
The £3,000-a-year boarding school was established in 1988 with the purpose of producing “great scholars and Huffaz [people who have memorised the Koran] to preserve and transmit the eternal message of Allah”.