Biden expresses solidarity with Muslims after killings in US of four, including two Pakistanis

Washington: US President Joe Biden has condemned the killing of four Muslims — two of them Pakistanis, in Albuquerque, a city in the southern state of New Mexico, in what local authorities are describing as targeted attacks.

In a Twitter post after news of the fourth death, Biden said he was angered and saddened by the killings, which rocked the tightly-knit community of 3,000 to 5,000 Muslims living in a city of over 500,000 people.

“While we await a full investigation, my prayers are with the victims’ families, and my administration stands strongly with the Muslim community,” Biden said in a Twitter post. “These hateful attacks have no place in America,” he added.

The four, murdered within a span of a week, are: Naeem Hussain and Muhammad Afzaal Hussain from Pakistan, while Aftab Hussein and Mohammad Ahmadi were Afghans.

Though the victims share a common surname, they were not related, Tahir Gauba, Director of Public Affairs at the Islamic Center of New Mexico, was quoted as saying in media reports.

Police in New Mexico and federal agencies were probing the killings, the latest of which occurred on Friday evening, the reports said.

New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham said in a Twitter post late on Saturday, “The targeted killings of Muslim residents of Albuquerque is deeply angering and wholly intolerable.”

Albuquerque police officials told a news conference that they were following a number of leads and issued a bulletin with photos of a four-door, dark gray Volkswagen sedan with tinted windows that they described as a “vehicle of interest” in the investigation.

It was left unclear how the car was tied to the case, and police said they had yet to determine whether they were seeking one or more suspects in the investigation.

“This tragedy is impacting not only the Muslim community – but all Americans,” The Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) National Executive Director, Nihad Awad, said in a statement. “We must be united against hate and violence regardless of the race, faith or background of the victims or the perpetrators.”

“We urge anyone with information about these crimes to come forward by contacting law enforcement,” Awad added, while announcing an award of $10,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible.