11 hurt in Austrian gurdwara clash (Lead)

May 24th, 2009 - 11:45 pm ICT by IANS  

Vienna, May 24 (DPA) At least 11 people were wounded, many severely, in an armed attack involving rival Sikh groups in a gurdwara here Sunday morning.
According to the APA news agency, the incident took place during a sermon by two guest gurus from India. Previous reports spoke of only one guru.

According to witnesses, several bearded and turbaned men equipped with at least one firearm stormed the temple during sermons by the guest speakers.

“Suddenly they took a gun and shot directly at the preachers,” said one woman present.

The attack triggered panic among the 100 people of the liberal Sikh congregation, few of whom wore the traditional untrimmed beard and long hair woven into a turban that is typical Sikhism practice.

During the melee, members of the congregation pounced upon the attackers and overpowered them, beating some severely.

The visiting gurus, both of whom were severely wounded, had been previously guests at the temple, which was first opened in 2005. Though having many followers in India, the two were rejected as heterodox by a rival Vienna Sikh community.

Police believe the conflict was based on doctrinal differences between the more traditional Sikh community and the liberal group whose temple was the scene of the attack.

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