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Man charged with killing two Muslim men in US city

Albuquerque Police Deputy Chief of Investigations Cecily Barker holds a flyer with photos of a car wanted in connection with Muslim men (Adolphe Pierre-Louis/AP)
Albuquerque Police Deputy Chief of Investigations Cecily Barker holds a flyer with photos of a car wanted in connection with Muslim men (Adolphe Pierre-Louis/AP)

A 51-year-old man was charged with killing two Muslim men in Albuquerque in the US state of New Mexico, and authorities said he is suspected in the killings of two others whose deaths sparked fear in Muslim communities nationwide.

Officials announced the man’s arrest a day after he was taken into custody.

Police Chief Harold Medina made the announcement on Twitter, saying that authorities had tracked down a vehicle believed to be involved in one of the slayings in New Mexico’s largest city.

“The driver was detained, and he is our primary suspect for the murders,” the tweet said.

No other information was immediately available.

Police planned to provide an update later Tuesday.

The deaths drew the attention of President Joe Biden, who said such attacks “have no place in America”.

They also sent a shudder through Muslim communities, where some people questioned their safety and limited their movements.

When told about the announcement, Muhammad Imtiaz Hussain, brother of one of the victims, Muhammad Afzaal Hussain, said he felt relieved but needed to know more about the suspect and the motive.

“This gives us hope that we will have (the) truth come out,” he said.

“We need to know why.”

Naeem Hussain was killed on Friday night, and the three other men died in ambush shootings.

Mr Hussain, 25, was from Pakistan.

His death came just days after those of Muhammad Afzaal Hussain, 27, and Aftab Hussein, 41, who were also from Pakistan and members of the same mosque.

The earliest case involves the November killing of Mohammad Ahmadi, 62, from Afghanistan.

Albuquerque Muslim Killings
An Imam leads a group of men during the Dhuhr afternoon prayer at the Islamic Centre of New Mexico in Albuquerque (Adolphe Pierre-Louis/AP)

Authorities on Monday sought help searching for a vehicle that appeared to be the one discovered on Tuesday.

The common elements in the deaths were the victims’ race and religion, officials said, and police were trying to determine if the deaths are linked.

Debbie Almontaser, a Muslim community leader in New York, said that a female friend who lives in Michigan and wears the hijab head covering shared with her over the weekend just how rattled she was.

“She’s like, ‘This is so terrifying. I’m so scared. I travel alone,’” Ms Almontaser said.

Aneela Abad, general secretary at the Islamic Centre of New Mexico, described a community reeling from the killings, its grief compounded by confusion and fear of what may follow.

“We are just completely shocked and still trying to comprehend and understand what happened, how and why,” she said.

Some people have avoided going out unless “absolutely necessary,” and some Muslim university students have been wondering whether it is safe for them to stay in the city, she said.

The centre has also beefed up its security.