US: Suspect arrested over murders of Muslim men
Washington, Aug 10: A man suspected of murdering four Muslim men in the US state of New Mexico has been arrested on Tuesday.
Police tracked down the vehicle believed to have been used in the ambush-style murders and arrested the 51-year-old driver, who is from Afghanistan. He was formally charged with two of the killings, and is the prime suspect in the other two.
"The driver was detained, and he is our primary suspect for the murders,'' Albuquerque police chief Harold Medina said.
The first victim had been fatally shot last November, while the other three were killed in the past two weeks. All of them were of Pakistani or Afghan descent.
A community on edge
Albuquerque, with a population of 565,000 people, is home to as many as 5,000 Muslims. The spate of murders had put the city's Muslim community on edge for months.
One of the victims was Muhammad Afzaal Hussain, a 27-year-old who was the city's planning director. His brother Imtiaz Hussain said news of the arrest reassured many in his community.
"My kids asked me, 'Can we sit on our balcony now?' and I said, 'Yes,' and they said, 'Can we go out and play now?' and I said, 'Yes,'" he said.
However, he added that he and his family are still waiting for answers.
Mohammad Ahmadi, 61, and Aftab Hussein, 41, were also among the victims.
The fourth victim, Naeem Hussain, 25, was a truck driver who became a US citizen on July 8. He was shot dead on Friday, hours after attending the burial of the two previous victims.
Three of the victims attended the Islamic Center of New Mexico, which is the oldest and largest mosque in Albuquerque.
Aneela Abad, general secretary at the mosque, said many Muslims in the area had stopped going outside unless "absolutely necessary." Some Pakistani university students even left town.
"We are just completely shocked and still trying to comprehend and understand what happened, how and why," she said.