Ex-US soldier kills six in gurdwara, India outraged (Roundup)

August 6th, 2012 - 8:41 pm ICT by IANS  

Barack Obama Washington/New Delhi, Aug 6 (IANS) In the worst hate crime directed at the Sikh community in the US, a former American soldier shot dead six people in a gurdwara before being killed in a massacre that left Sikhs around the world in mourning.

Hours after US President Barack Obama expressed his condolences and praised the Sikh community, American media identified the assassin as Wade Michael Page, a 40-year-old former army soldier.

Fox News said Page, reportedly a white supremacist, had been attached to the Fort Bragg Army installation in North Carolina.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) said it was probing the attack as an act of domestic terrorism. The killer sported a 9/11 tattoo on one arm.

Earlier attacks on Sikhs in the US have been blamed on gunmen who have confused Sikh men, with their beards and headgear, with Arabs.

According to one account, the Sunday shooting in the Milwaukee suburb of Oak Creek happened when Page sneaked into the Sikh temple through the kitchen and began his shooting spree, catching the worshippers unawares.

One of the dead was identified as Prakash Singh, a priest who recently migrated to the US with his wife and two young children, CNN said.

Kanwardeep Singh Kaleka, who is attached to the gurdwara, said the attacker was described as a bald, white man, who wore a white T-shirt and black pants.

He said the man opened fire at a parking lot, “then entered the temple and proceeded to open fire”.

As the shooting started, panic gripped the temple. Several women and children escaped into a pantry. They remained there until police rescued them.

A police officer shot dead Page. By then six worshippers were dead while a police officer and three civilians were injured. The officer was shot multiple times, said Oak Creek police chief John Edwards.

According to news channel TMJ 4, the gurdwara president, Satwant Singh Kaleka, was said to be one of the shooting victims.

In New Delhi, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, a Sikh, Monday expressed deep shock and sadness over the shooting.

He hoped the US authorities would probe the attack and ensure that such “ghastly events” did not recur.

“It is a very sad occurrence, the senseless killing of people who gathered at a religions congregation. It happened under tragic circumstances, it makes me enormously sad.”

Calling Sikhs “a part of our broader American family”, Obama promised a full investigation into Sunday’s killings.

“As we mourn this loss which took place at a house of worship, we are reminded how much our country has been enriched by Sikhs, who are a part of our broader American family,” he said.

That did not prevent Sikhs from taking to the streets in Jammu. In New Delhi, US ambassador Nancy Powell called on Sikh leaders at a gurdwara in the heart of the capital and offered her condolences.

Minister of State for External Affairs Preneet Kaur, also a Sikh, said the security of gurdwaras in the US should be taken care of.

“Our hearts go out to the victims and their families, as we all struggle to comprehend the evil that begets this terrible violence,” Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker said.

The Sikh Coalition, the largest Sikh American civil rights body in the US, said it was in touch with both the FBI’s Civil Rights Division and the White House.

With over 25 million followers worldwide, Sikhism is the fifth largest religion. It has over 700,000 followers in the US, the coalition said.

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