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Hindu Temple Firebombed

By GEORGE JOSEPH, New York, Mar. 1, 2003

"The police and F.B.I. are at a loss why a fire bomb was thrown at the Hindu temple in St. Louis, Missouri, on the night of Feb. 22. 'It seemed to be a crude bomb or Molotov cocktail, which set fire to the front door of the temple,' Krishna Reddy, president of the temple trustee board, said. The police have registered a hate crime case, officials said. The fire quickly burned itself out, charring a four-foot section of the door. The attack happened after midnight, Reddy thinks. Temple officials discovered the attack when they arrived to open the shrine the next morning. 'There are four priests living in the compound a little behind the temple. They did not hear anything that night,' Reddy said. 'We are getting a lot of support from the police, F.B.I. and other officials. There is no panic in the community,' Jiwan Singla, chairman of the temple building committee, said. 'Everything is normal, but we are increasing security,' he said."
"There was no threat to the temple, police said. The temple has no dispute with anyone, Reddy noted. There was an attack on statues in front of the temple two years ago, he said. Vandals cut parts of the statues, which were replaced later. After that incident, security cameras were installed inside the temple. 'Now we are installing security cameras outside the temple,' Reddy said. Established 13 years ago, it is one of the largest temples in the U.S. serving more than 8,000 families. Lord Venkatesa is the principal deity. 'Maybe it's just kids, I don't know, but what they did is serious and it could have been worse,' Reddy said. 'We certainly hope they don't come back.' Maha Shivratri celebrations are scheduled for Mar. 1. 'The attack has not changed anything,' Singla noted. All the activities will go on as scheduled, he said."