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Further arson attacks on religious temples

LONDON -- Arson attacks on religious temples entered a second day Wednesday amid calls from Muslim and Hindu leaders for calm following the demolition of an ancient mosque by Hindu fanatics in India.

Police were investigating up to eight new attacks on Asian temples and centers overnight throughout Britain.

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The most extensive damage was caused during a fire at a Sikh temple at Luton in Bedfordshire and a Hindu temple in Wembly, north London, which a Scotland Yard spokesman described as serious.

Police had arrested one man in connection with the temple fire, the spokesman said.

Other overnight attacks included damage to a property belonging to the Indian Workers' Association in West Yorkshire, fires at a Hindu temple and two Hindu community centres in Bradford and a petrol-bombing attack on a Hindu temple in Oldham, Manchester.

An emergency meeting called by the International Muslims' Organization was scheduled to be held in north London later Wednesday's to discuss the wave of arson attacks. A spokesman said there would be renewed calls for calm because 'we do not want the violence to spread.'

The worst attack so far was at Blacklake, West Bromwich, overnight Monday when fire destroyed the Shree Krishna Hindu temple, causing millions of dollars worth of damage.

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The Imams and Mosques' Council has condemned the attacks on the mosque in India as 'barbarous and sacriligious.'

'We do not help the people of India, neither Hindu nor Muslim, by transferring their trouble to Great Britain,' the council said in a statement.

The attacks on Hindu temples in the Midlands raised fears among some Asian community leaders that a 'ripple effect' from the rioting in India might spread through Britain, the Daily Telegraph reported Wednesday.

The president of one Hindu community center in Birmingham, Peter Amin, said: 'This is a backlash by some Muslim miscreants. I hope this madness quickly stops and that there is no Hindu backlash.'

A West Bromwich temple leader, Bob Patel, told the Telegraph: 'We are saddened by this act and are sure it is a result of current religious problems in India.

'We would urge people not to take part in acts of retribution,' he said.

At least 350 people have died across India in the violence sparked by the destruction of the 16th century Ayodhya mosque on Sunday.

Dozens of Hindu temples were destroyed Tuesday in Bangladesh and Pakistan, where at least 15 Hindus were murdered.

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