Tue, 27 Sep 2022

HOUSTON, Aug. 8 (Xinhua) -- The killing of a Muslim man Friday may be linked to the ambush shooting of three other Muslim men in the past nine months in Albuquerque, the largest city in the U.S. state of New Mexico, authorities have said.

Naeem Hussain, a South Asian man in his mid-20s, was shot dead in a parking lot of an organization that offers services for refugees and asylum seekers in the city, according to the Islamic Center of New Mexico's spokesman.

Earlier on Friday, Hussain attended the funeral service for two Muslim men who were killed in the past two weeks.

Aftab Hussein, 41, and Muhammad Afzaal Hussain, 27, were killed in ambush shootings near their homes on July 26 and Aug. 1 respectively, police said. Both were from Pakistan and members of the same mosque.

"Now, people are beginning to panic," said Tahir Gauba, the director of public affairs with the Islamic Center of New Mexico. Hussain's death was the latest in what police suspect is a string of homicides targeting Muslim men based on their race and religion.

An Albuquerque Police Department spokesman said on Saturday that these homicides have led detectives to try to determine whether the November 2021 killing of Mohammad Ahmadi, 62, is also related. Ahmadi, a Muslim man of South Asian descent, was shot dead behind a halal market he owned with his brother.

Police have not revealed whether they believe one person or multiple suspects carried out these heinous attacks.

New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham said on Saturday she will send additional State Police to Albuquerque to patrol and work with local police and the FBI.

"I am angered and saddened that this is happening in New Mexico, a place that prides itself on diversity of culture and thought. This is not who we are," said the governor.

"We will not stop in our pursuit of justice for the victims and their families and are bringing every resource to bear to apprehend the killer or killers, and we will find them," said the governor.

"We lifted overtime caps for our officers so that we could utilize several of our specialized units to help ensure the strong presence of Albuquerque officers to keep the community safe," Albuquerque police chief Harold Medina said at an online press conference.

Police ask anyone with information about the case to contact them, offering a 20,000-U.S. dollar reward, local media reported. The Council on American-Islamic Relations has raised the reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible to 10,000 dollars.

Albuquerque is on pace for another record-setting year of homicides, according to local media reports.

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