Arms haul from arrested Sikh’s house in Vienna (Lead)

June 16th, 2009 - 2:36 pm ICT by IANS  

By Mehru Jaffer
Vienna, June 16 (IANS) Knives, pistols and guns were amongst the large cache of arms and ammunition seized from the Vienna apartment of Amritpal Singh, a Sikh of Indian origin, who was arrested after a firefight with Austrian police for his role in last month’s shootout at a gurdwara here in which a sect leader was killed and 15 injured.

On Monday, Amritpal, 26, fired gunshots at members of Austria’s special police force investigating the May 24 shooting. According to the police, he was immediately overpowered and arrested. Six other suspects had been detained soon after the attack.

After a raid on the 15th district apartment of Amritpal, police confiscated computers, 35 guns of various sizes, about 2,000 bullets and a red Nissan Alemrain full of weapons.

“Weapons like knives of different sizes, pistols and long guns including air guns were found in the apartment of Amritpal, who is a Sikh with an Austrian passport. He fired at the police from inside his apartment from behind the closed door. The police entered the apartment unhurt and arrested him,” police spokesperson Michael Takacs told IANS.

Takacs revealed that the special investigations group created after the shootout at the gurdwara of the Dera Sach Khand sect is named “SoKo Punjab”. After weeks of interrogations of scores of eye witnesses, police raided nine apartments Monday.

He added that police did not yet know how Amritpal is connected to the case and why he fired at the Austrian commandos.

Hardeep Singh, a 33-year-old asylum seeker facing deportation and a suspect in the shootout, was released from preventive detention June 5 but remains in custody on charges of living in the country illegally.

Police said they had found further evidence linking Hardeep to the May 24 murder and mayhem. They were not sure if the attack on the shrine was performed by hired killers but Takacs said that nothing can be ruled out.

One of those under arrest, the suspected mastermind behind the murder of 57-year-old Guru Ramanand Dass, is still in artificial coma in a Viennese hospital after suffering headshot wounds in the tussle that took place at the temple.

Violence erupted in India’s Punjab state following the news that Ramanand Dass had been killed at the Vienna gurdwara and that the sect’s chief Niranjan Dass had been injured along with 14 others. At least three people were killed and dozens injured in the sectarian riots in Punjab.

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