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Imam among two men killed in shooting near New York mosque

By AFP

Added 14th August 2016 05:25 AM

Gunshots rang out just before 2:00 pm (1800 GMT) near a mosque in the Ozone Park neighborhood of Queens.

Imam among two men killed in shooting near New York mosque

An imam and another unidentified male were both shot in the head and killed in New York Saturday, police said, in an attack with unclear motives ©Drew Angerer (Getty/AFP/File)

Gunshots rang out just before 2:00 pm (1800 GMT) near a mosque in the Ozone Park neighborhood of Queens.

An imam and his assistant were both shot in the head and killed in New York Saturday, police said, in a brazen attack carried out in broad daylight with unclear motives.

Gunshots rang out just before 2:00 pm (1800 GMT) near a mosque in the Ozone Park neighborhood of Queens.

The two men were approached from behind by a suspect, whom witnesses saw fleeing from the scene with a gun, according to police.

Officers said the individual is still at large and the investigation is ongoing.

US media reported that the men were shot after leaving the Al-Furqan Jame Masjid mosque after Saturday afternoon prayers, dressed in Islamic attire.

However police said the motive is unknown and no arrests have been made.

"There is nothing in the preliminary investigation to indicate that they were targeted because of their faith," police told journalists.

Both men were taken to nearby Jamaica Hospital, where imam Maulama Akonjee, 55, was pronounced dead, a spokesman with New York's Office of the Deputy Commissioner, Public Information told AFP.

Thara Uddin, age 64, later succumbed to his injuries, the spokesman said.

The neighborhood's city council representative Eric Ulrich tweeted that he stood "in strong solidarity with all Muslim New Yorkers tonight as we mourn the killings of Imam Maulama Akonjee and Thara Uddin."

"When a religious leader is killed in broad daylight on the streets of Queens, we must come together as a community and demand justice!" he wrote.

Footage uploaded to Twitter showed people gathered Saturday evening near the scene of the fatal shooting, many of them yelling "we want justice."

"Imagine your father gunned down for no reason, and then let that feeling, let that motivate you to come out of your silence," said Afaf Nasher, the director of the New York chapter of the Council on American-Islamic relations (CAIR) at a press conference in front of the mosque.

"When we stay silent we allow crimes to continue to occur," she said. "So every single one of us shares in this responsibility. And let's not forget the victims who are essential to all of this."

 

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