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Calls grow for investigation shooting death of US Muslim students

13 February 2015 15:37

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Amid growing calls for investigation of the shooting deaths of three US Muslim students in North Carolina, the FBI has announced that it would probe the incident.

In a statement on Thursday, the agency said it would continue to “provide assistance to the Chapel Hill Police Department to process evidence related to a triple homicide investigation.”

The FBI has also opened a “parallel preliminary inquiry to determine whether or not any federal laws were violated related to the case,” the statement read.

On Tuesday evening, a gunman shot dead Deah Barakat, 23, his 21-year-old wife Yusor Abu-Salha, and her 19-year-old sister Razan Abu-Salha, in the couple’s apartment in Chapel Hill, near the University of North Carolina campus.

The shooter, Craig Stephen Hicks, 46, was arrested following the incident. He was charged with three counts of first-degree murder.

Thousands of students gathered at the North Carolina State University on Wednesday to pray and mourn the deaths of the Muslim students.

Obama criticized for silence on killing of Muslim students

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has criticized his American counterpart for being silent over the killings.

“If you stay silent when faced with an incident like this and don’t make a statement, the world will stay silent towards you,” Erdogan said during a visit to Mexico.

“As politicians, we are responsible for everything that happens in our countries and we have to show our positions,” he added.

The White House announced that it would comment on the matter until after the results of the police investigation.

Families of victims say shootings were hate crime

Family members of the victims called on US authorities to investigate the shootings as a hate crime, saying the three students were shot execution-style.

The father of the two female victims, Dr. Mohammad Abu-Salha, urged the FBI to look carefully at the motivation behind the killings.

“Please investigate. Please look carefully. I have talked to lawyers. I have talked to law professors. This has hate crime written all over it,” Abu-Salha said.

“Let’s stand up and see what these three children were martyred about. It was not about a parking spot.”

He was referring police comments that the incident happened over a confrontation for a parking spot.

Suzanne Barakat, the sister of Deah, on Wednesday demanded that authorities “investigate these senseless and heinous murders as a hate crime,” adding that they were “execution-style murders.”

Meanwhile, Chapel Hill Police Chief Chris Blue reassured the families of the young students that he is working over the shootings.

“I do want to take this opportunity and I won’t speak much about the investigation today at all cause this is a time to be together,” Blue said. “I would just recommit that we are examining every possible investigative angle to include the potential for hate crime.”

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