Thousands of worshippers gathered at western Europe’s biggest mosque this afternoon, to pay respect to victims of last Friday’s terrorist attacks in Pakistan, under the watchful eye of police and security guards.

More than 6,000 Ahmadi Muslims visited the Bait-ul-Futuh in London Road, Morden, where their spiritual leader told them to remain vigilant in the face of hatred and extremism.

Ahmadi Muslims are a minority sect within Islamic communities and are regarded as non-Muslims in Pakistan, where their forms of worship are criminalised.

Last Friday, armed gunmen stormed two Ahmadi mosques with AK-47s and grenades, killing 93 worshippers and wounding dozens more as they prayed.

Among the dead was Southfields businessman Muhammad Ashraf Bilal, whose high profile as a philanthropist made him target for assassins after he had built a medical dispensary in Lahore.

Kingston resident Lutfur Rahman, 32, who lives in Fairfield Road, narrowly survived the attacks by hiding behind a pillar as the terrorists sprayed gunfire at the worshippers.

Mr Rahman said: “They hurled three hand grenades and shot dead the imam. I hid behind a pillar and feared for my life as people to my left and right were hit and fell to the ground. They stopped moving.”

Amid fears of further violence by extremists, Merton police provided extra officers to patrol to check each incoming car’s boot and bonnet as they entered the grounds.

Each visitor had to pass through airport-style scanners and the mosque was patrolled by Merton Police’s Safer Neighbourhood Teams from St Helier and Morden Park wards.

Imran Uddin, the mosque’s external relations manager, said they had mutually agreed with the Metropolitan Police to crack down on security in the aftermath of last week’s attacks.

He said: “We have had good co-operation with the police and the safer neighbourhood teams, who are very familiar with the mosque.

“We have also had discussions with Scotland Yard about providing support from the anti-terrorism division.”