New York cleric, assistant shot dead near mosque

New York, Aug 14 (IANS) A New York cleric and his assistant were shot down on Saturday after prayers at a nearby mosque, police said.

The two men were both shot in the head about 1.50 p.m. in Ozone Park, a working-class section of Queens with a large Bangladeshi population, CNN reported.

“There is nothing in the preliminary investigation that would indicate they were targeted because of their faith,” New York Police Department Deputy Inspector Henry Sautner told the media here.

The cleric Maulana Akonjee, 55, and his assistant, Thara Uddin, 64, were taken in critical condition to Jamaica Hospital, where they later died, CNN quoted Sautner as saying.

According to preliminary investigation,the two men, wearing their religious attire, were walking back home from the Al-Furqan Jame Masjid Mosque after midday prayers.

Investigators were trying to determine whether an earlier dispute at the mosque led to the shooting, CNN reported citing law enforcement officials.

Police said surveillance video captured the gunman leaving the scene with his weapon in hand.

“The perpetrator of these senseless killings must be swiftly apprehended and face the full force of the law,” Afaf Nasher, executive director of the New York chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) said in a statement.



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