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Sketch released of suspect in killing of imam

A young woman looks over the area from the steps of an elevated train station Saturday Aug. 13 2016 in the Queens borough of New York near a crime scene after the leader of a New York City mosque and an associate were fatal

While the motive for the shooting was not immediately known and no evidence has been uncovered that the two men were targeted due to their faith, some in the Muslim community have spoken out against Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump, blaming him for creating an atmosphere of Islamophobia.

But police were not ruling out any possibility, she added.

Imam Akonjee and his assistant Thara Uddin, 64, were shot a short walk from the al-Furqan Jame mosque at about 13:50 local time (17:50 GMT) on Saturday.

Both men were taken to hospital but died "while life-saving procedures were being performed", a hospital spokesman said.

"Imagine your father gunned down for no reason, and then let that feeling, let that motivate you to come out of your silence", Afaf Nasher, the director of the NY chapter of the Council on American-Islamic relations, said at a tense press conference in front of the mosque.

Family and neighbors of an imam and his associate who were gunned down near a New York City mosque are still grappling for answers.

"These were community leaders. But it's very important to mount a thorough investigation".

Surveillance video captured the moment when a gunman shot and killed an imam and his associate near a Queens mosque Saturday afternoon.

"We live in an era where people running for the highest office in the land. and potentially being the most powerful people in the world, espousing hate towards Muslims even in their own country, even citizens of their own country", said Ramadan, according to the BBC. We blame Donald Trump for this.... Trump and his drama has created Islamophobia'. The shooter approached them from behind as they left the Al-Furqan Jame Masjid mosque shortly before 2 p.m. Saturday. "We are calling for all people, of all faiths, to rally with compassion and with a sense of vigilance so that justice can be served", Nasher said. Deputy Inspector Henry Sautner told Reuters that investigators had not yet found anything to conclude that the men were killed due to their faith.

The organisation said that while the motive for the crime is still unknown, nothing can justify the killing of two men walking from their place of worship.

United States media reported that the men were shot after leaving the Al-Furqan Jame Masjid mosque after Saturday afternoon prayers, dressed in traditional Muslim garb.

"That's not what America is about", Khairul Islam, a local, was quoted as saying by the report. She would tell him: "Why are you caring about me?"

Police have not identified a motive for the killings, and said "they did not know whether it was related to a botched robbery, a dispute or anything tied to their religion or race", the Times reported. "We feel really insecure and unsafe in a moment like this", Millat Uddin, an Ozone Park resident told CBS television in NY. "It's really threating to us, threatening to our future, threatening to our mobility in our neighbourhood, and we're looking for the justice".

Members of the community had felt animosity lately, with people cursing while passing the mosque, said worshipper Shahin Chowdhury.