Police question suspect over New York imam killing

2016-08-15 21:28
 Imam Maulama Akonjee (Abdul Chowdhury via AP)

Imam Maulama Akonjee (Abdul Chowdhury via AP)

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New York - New York police were questioning a suspect on Monday in connection with the double murder of an imam and his assistant near their mosque in Queens.

Maulama Akonjee, 55, who migrated to the United States from Bangladesh, and his assistant, 64-year-old Thara Uddin, were shot dead in broad daylight on Saturday afternoon in the Ozone Park neighbourhood.

"An individual in custody for an unrelated incident has been questioned," a police spokesperson said. So far, no arrests have been made in connection with the murders, said the spokesperson.

Police on Sunday released a sketch of a suspect, asking for public assistance in identifying the "adult male with a medium complexion, last seen wearing a dark coloured shirt and blue shorts".

The sketch showed a man wearing glasses with a beard and moustache, and a high forehead with his hair combed back.

Police say so far nothing indicates that the two men were targeted because of their faith, but members of the Muslim community have called the attack a hate crime.

They point to growing Islamophobia fuelled by a series of terror attacks in the United States and abroad, as well as hostile statements by Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.

The working-class area where the victims were killed, on the border between Queens and Brooklyn, is home to many Muslim families from Bangladesh.

Akonjee had been carrying more than $1 000, but the attacker did not take the money, police said.

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