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Police arrests 14 men for trespassing into Sikh temple in UK

Last updated on: September 11, 2016 21:15 IST

Fourteen people were arrested on Sunday for aggravated trespassing in the West Midlands region of England after a gang of 20-30 sword-wielding men stormed a Sikh temple, apparently opposing a mixed race marriage between a Sikh and a non-Sikh couple.

Specially trained officers from Warwickshire Police are still believed to be inside Gurdwara Sahib in the town of Leamington Spa to negotiate with the other men.

Fourteen people were arrested for aggravated trespassing in the West Midlands region of England, police said.

A spokesperson for Warwickshire Police said: "The report was received at 6.47 am after a group of between 20 and 30 men entered the temple. This is currently being treated as aggravated trespass and at this time we believe that it is an escalation of an ongoing local dispute."

"We believe that some of the men are in possession of bladed items and as such armed officers have been deployed to the scene. Officers are inside the temple to negotiate a peaceful resolution," the spokesperson said.

"We would like to reassure people that this is not being treated as a terrorist incident," he added.

The spokesperson confirmed religious leaders in the temple were working with officers to negotiate a peaceful resolution.

"There are police cordons in place around the temple and we would ask that people avoid the immediate area while the incident is resolved," he said.

Some reports claim the armed gang is demonstrating against a mixed race marriage, although this remains unconfirmed.

Jatinder Singh Birdi, a former treasurer at the temple, said a marriage between a Sikh and non-Sikh couple was due to take place.

"There have been tensions that have been going on for a couple of years with some people objecting to mixed marriages in taking place in the Gurdwara," he was quoted as saying by BBC.

"The general consensus is people are respectful of mixed marriages if the traditions are respected. Nothing has happened on this level before. This is meant to be one of the happiest moments of somebody's life -- it shows a lack of respect," he said.

A police cordon is currently in force around the temple while officers and religious leaders try to end the stand-off. 

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