May 24, 2009 / 1:44 PM / 11 years ago

Nine wounded in Sikh temple attack in Vienna

A crime scene investigator enters the house where a Sikh temple is located in Vienna May 24, 2009. REUTERS/Heinz-Peter Bader

VIENNA (Reuters) - At least nine people were wounded when armed men attacked a preacher and worshippers in a Sikh temple in the Austrian capital Vienna on Sunday, police said.

A police spokeswoman said six suspects had been arrested and were among the injured after the afternoon incident. She said the casualty toll could rise pending an update from hospital officials. Austrian news agency APA said 30 people were hurt.

Local authorities and witnesses initially reported a shootout between people from two feuding families but later said the violence involved members of several Sikh temples in Vienna who had been at odds for several years.

Police said the violence began when six men abruptly stood up during a service in the temple in Vienna’s heavily immigrant Rudolfsheim district and attacked the preacher and others among the more than 150 worshippers.

One of the attackers fired a gun and others were wielding knives. In an ensuing melee, at least nine people suffered gunshot and stab wounds before the assailants were subdued by other Sikh worshippers.

Women and children at the service were not harmed.

APA quoted witnesses as saying the preacher had travelled from India to Vienna to conduct the service even though members of rival temples had threatened violence if he appeared.

“It was a (regular) Sikh religious service and there were six fundamentalists who entered the congregation and apparently had fallen out with the preacher,” the police spokeswoman said.

Reporting by Mark Heinrich and Sylvia Westall; Editing by Charles Dick

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