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“Sikh guru killed in planned attack”

VIENNA/LONDON: Sant Rama Nand, associate head of the Jalandhar-based Dera Sacha Khand, a leading Indian Sikh sect, who died in Sunday’s assault by members of a rival fundamentalist group, was killed in a “planned attack”, the Vienna police said on Monday.

“The attack had clearly been planned,” police spokesman Michael Takacs told journalists. “A full investigation is under way,” he said.

At least 16 people were wounded, some of them seriously, in the attack, which sparked riots in parts of North India, where the followers of Sant Rama Nand, 57, took to the streets to protest the killing.

Nand, one of the two visiting preachers, died of wounds in hospital. The other, Sant Niranjan Dass, 66, was seriously injured.

Six of the attackers, who were caught and roughed up by the devotees, were in hospital. The condition of four of them was serious, while the others were questioned by the police.

The Austrian police did not rule out more arrests. “The investigation is continuing to find out whether the six attackers were acting alone or under orders,” the spokesman said. The police revised the number of injured from 30 to 16.

Mr. Takacs said the attackers pulled out knives and fired from a gun as the Sant was preaching to a congregation of 200 disciples at a gurdwara near here.

He underwent an emergency operation, but “lost consciousness and died shortly after midnight last night”. The six people were overpowered by members of the community and seriously injured. Two of the attackers were in a critical condition after being shot in the head.

Regretting the violence, Austria said Monday that it was making all efforts to book the guilty.

“The investigation is going on,” Austrian Foreign Ministry spokesman Peter Launsky said.Mr. Launsky said it was “particularly sad” and “very unfortunate” that the incident took place in Vienna, which he said was known as the place of dialogue and peace. Sources said the Indian Embassy was in constant touch with the Austrian authorities. — PTI

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