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British Police Arrest Suspect in Death of Afghan Sikh

A man walks past Tilbury Docks, east of London, where one man was found dead and 19 people, including seven children, were taken to hospital on Saturday after they were discovered inside a shipping container at the British port, Aug. 16, 2014.

British police arrested a man from Northern Ireland on Tuesday on suspicion of manslaughter over the death of an Afghan Sikh immigrant whose body was found last weekend in a shipping container.

The Sikh was among 35 suspected stowaways found in a shipping container at a dock in England three days ago, police said.

Police said the 34-year-old man was arrested just after midday on a motorway at Banbridge, about 45 kilometers (28 miles) southwest of Belfast.

He will be taken to England for questioning by Essex police on suspicion of murder and of facilitating illegal entry into the United Kingdom. His home in Limavady, Northern Ireland, was also being searched.

“This is a fast-moving investigation which has already involved a number of police forces and law enforcement agencies from across the United Kingdom and Europe,” said Acting Detective Chief Inspector Martin Pasmore of Essex Police.

The body of Meet Singh Kapoor, 40, was found on Saturday when staff at Tilbury docks in Essex heard screaming and banging coming from a container being unloaded after arriving on a ferry from Zeebrugge in Belgium.

The cause of his death has yet to be established.

Suffering hypothermia, dehydration

They found a total of 35 people in the shipping container, including about 13 children aged between one and 12, who were believed to be from Afghanistan and mainly Sikhs. Several needed hospital treatment for hypothermia and dehydration.

The Sikhs told a Punjabi translator they were fleeing alleged religious persecution in Kabul.

Sikhs make up a tiny minority in Afghanistan's population of around 31 million people.

Police are continuing investigations to find out how the people came to be in the container.

Tilbury, on the River Thames in eastern England, is primarily a bulk cargo and container port and not such a prime target for illegal immigrants as those on the south coast, such as Dover.

Earlier Tuesday, the Sikhs who survived said they were seeking asylum in the U.K.

The group is in the custody of the British Home Office.

British authorities described the Sikhs' ordeal in the shipping containers as "horrendous" and believe the Sikhs already were in the crates when they arrived in Belgium.

Some information for this report provided by Reuters and AFP.

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