New York:  Six people were killed in an attack on a Gurdwara during Sunday morning prayers in Wisconsin by at least one gunman who was also shot dead, police said.

READ MORE: India in touch with US

At least 20 people were also injured when at least one shooter opened fire indiscriminately amid reports that 12 children were taken as hostages at the Sikh shrine.

Greenfield Police Chief Bradley Wentlandt said four people were gunned down inside the Gurdwara while three including the shooter died outside the shrine. The identity of the victims were immediately not known.

Police said they have not yet identified if there was any additional shooter. Preliminary reports said that at least three gunmen were involved in the attack.

According to Satwant's sister-in-law Parmindar Kaur, about 25 people are believed to have been injured. A Sikh priest had specially come from India to address the gathering on Sunday.

The critically injured have been admitted to Froedtert hospital. The shooting at Oak Creek, just south of Wisconsin's biggest city Milwaukee, occurred at around 11 am (local time), the Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel reported. Oak Creek is about 1,250 km from New York.

About 300 to 400 people were reported to be at the Gurdwara, built about 6-7 years ago, and is spread over an expansive area.

Initial reports said a witness to the shooting told law enforcement agents that one shooter was of a heavy build, bald white male wearing a sleeveless T-shirt.

US President Barack Obama was also briefed by his counter-terrorism advisor John Brennan on the situation and the White House is seized of the matter, US officials said. The shooter was last seen with two handguns.

"The people who started shooting are three white people," said Gurcharan Grewal, President Sikh Society.
  

A police spokesman said a law enforcement officer was shot multiple times by the unidentified shooter, who was "put down". It was not immediately known if the shooter was injured or killed.

"We do not know if there are additional shooters at the temple," he said. The officer has been transported to hospital and was expected to survive. The spokesman said tactical operations are ongoing and that the situation was "very fluid".

The Milwaukee Sentinel reported that two shooters are possibly still inside the Gurudwara with children as hostages. Being a Sunday, the Gurdwara was likely to have been crowded.

Media reports said about 12 children have been held hostages. The president of the temple is also reportedly shot and has been rushed to the hospital, they said.

Indian Ambassador Nirupama Rao described the shooting as extremely tragic and said the Embassy was in touch with the National Security Council at White House. The Consul General at Chicago is deputing an official to the spot.

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker as well as several advocacy groups condemned the shooting and offered condolences to victims. Walker said the state is working with the FBI and local law enforcement in response to the shooting.

"Our hearts go out to the victims and their families as we all struggle to comprehend the evil that begets this terrible violence," the governor said.

"At the same time, we are filled with gratitude for our first responders, who show bravery and selflessness as they put aside their own safety to protect our neighbors and friends."

Walker and his wife, Tonette, asked people to join them in "praying for the victims and their families, praying for the safety of our law enforcement and first responder professionals and praying for strength and healing for this entire community and our state."

Various minority groups have condemned the shooting calling it a "cold-blooded massacre of innocent worshipers". Indian Minorities Advocacy Network and Muslim Peace Coalition USA condemned the heinous attack and urged the Muslims to hold special prayer services in this holy month of Ramadan for the victims.

Condemning the incident, the Sacramento Sikh Community said the "Sikh community has been the subject of many attacks over the years and since 9-11.

"At times like this, we must rely on our faith and join as a community to deal with this tragedy."

The American Sikh Political Action Committee said the "latest tragedy is not representative of the true nature of our country."
SALDEF, the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund, a national Sikh American civil rights organization, said: "Our thoughts and prayers are with the injured, the survivors, their families, and the Oak Creek community."

(Agencies)

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