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By Mehru Jaffer
Tuesday, June 16, 2009 (09:56:19)
Tags : India, Australia, terrorism

Vienna gurdwara shootout suspect arrested

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Vienna: Amritpal Singh, a 26-year-old Sikh man of Indian origin, was arrested after a firefight with commados of Australian police who raided his apartment while investigating the May 24 shootout at the Guru Ravidass Gurdwara here in which a sect leader was killed and 15 injured. He was the seventh person arrested for the crime, police said.

Amritpal today fired gunshots at members of Austria's special police force investigating last month's shooting. According to the police, he was immediately overpowered and arrested.

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 media.

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 today.

He added that police do 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 on June 5 but remains in custody on charges of living in the country illegally.

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

Six suspects were detained immediately after the attack. One of them, 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.(IANS)