Two people have been detained in connection with the murder of an imam who died after being attacked at a children's playground in Rochdale. Greater Manchester Police have arrested a 21-year-old male and a 17-year-old boy following the death of Jalal Uddin, who was found with serious head injuries at a play area in Wardleworth on 18 February.
The pair were arrested after police executed a warrant on Ramsey Street, Rochdale. A Vauxhall Astra was also seized as part of the investigation. Religious leaders have appealed for calm while detectives investigate the murder, with police saying it is still too early in the investigation to determine if the attack was racially motivated.
A Home Office post-mortem examination confirmed Uddin died from a head injury. A 31-year-old man arrested on 19 February on suspicion of murder has been released without charge and eliminated from police enquiries.
Police are continuing to appeal for information and it is now believed Uddin was assaulted sometime between 8.41pm and 8.48pm, after walking home from a friend's house on South Street.
Detective chief inspector Terry Crompton of GMP's Serious Crime Division said: "Our investigation is continuing at a quick pace and we have carried out a significant number of enquiries since the tragic events of last Thursday to establish what happened to Jalal.
"We have got two people in custody and I hope these arrests, along with the police activity on Ramsey Street today, will reassure the public of just how serious we are taking this investigation. We are continuing to appeal for anyone with information to come forward and following extensive analysis of CCTV, we now know that Jalal walked into the park from the South Street entrance at 8.41pm before he was then found injured seven minutes later by a member of the public.
"We are keen to speak to anyone who saw anything suspicious in the South Street area around this time, no matter how big or small you believe it may be."
Shuja Shafi, secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain, said: "We pay our deepest condolences to his family, friends and the community in Rochdale, for the loss of a man who played a significant role within the community and will be sorely missed. It is not the first time that an imam has been murdered whilst on the way home from mosque, and we would urge the community to be vigilant and offer support and assistance whilst travelling."
Anyone with information should please contact officers at GMP's Major Incident Team on 0161 856 4711 or the independent charity Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.