Random American gun violence erupted in a Sikh gurdwara outside Milwaukee in Wisconsin on a quiet Sunday morning, claiming the lives of at least seven people. Early reports spoke of a white Caucasian male who opened fire indiscriminately amid reports that 12 children had been taken hostage. At least 20 people were injured, three of them critically.
The gunman was shot dead by the police who rushed to the scene after 911 calls.
The U.S. President Barack Obama was briefed by his counter-terrorism adviser John Brennan on the situation.
The Indian embassy in Washington DC said it was seized of the situation and was in touch with the National Security Council. "Our consulate general in Chicago too has been in close touch with the local authorities to monitor the situation. An official has been deputed to visit the site to ascertain the situation on the spot," the embassy said in a statement.
Sikhs seethe over attack
Sikhs have been targets of random, occasional violence and discrimination in the aftermath of 9/11 although the Obama White House has engaged more with the Sikh community than any other US administration in history.
Obama himself has been deeply respectful of the faith and has hosted events to honour the Sikh Guru Nanak Dev and celebrate other Sikh events. But things have been spotty at the workaday level with occasional complaints from Sikh organizations about discrimination.
Sikhs reacted angrily to the shooting with some snide comments about white, majority terrorism. "Waiting for a US news network to get the guts to call this what it is - home-grown terrorism," said Gagan Singh who tweets under the handle @urbanturbanguy.
Scores of people had gathered at the gurdwara in Oak Creek, built about 6-7 years ago, on Sunday morning when a gunman opened indiscriminate fire.
On Sundays, typically Sikh temples across the US host a langar to serve free lunch to people of all faiths. The local police chief described the scene as chaotic and fluid and urged the media not to broadcast photos or video showing tactical units, which could put officers in danger.
One of the dead was reported to be a priest visiting from Delhi but this could not be confirmed.
Terror on Sikhs
Sikh rights groups have reported a rise in hate crimes in the US since 9/11 attacks as community members were mistaken for Muslims; over 700 incidents recorded
Sept 2001: A Sikh gas station owner shot dead in Mesa, Arizona
July 2004: A Sikh severely beaten outside a New York restaurant
March 2011: Two Sikhs fired upon in Sacramento, leaving one dead and the other in critical condition
May 2011: A Sikh MTA employee sucker-punched in a moving train in NY by a man who accused him of being related to Osama bin Laden