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Imam, Associate Gunned Down Outside New York Mosque

In this Aug. 13, 2016, photo, people gather near a crime scene for a demonstration after the leader of a New York City mosque and an associate were fatally shot in a brazen daylight attack as they left afternoon prayers Saturday.

New York police are searching for the gunman who killed a Muslim cleric and an associate at close range on a city street as they left afternoon prayers Saturday.

Police released a sketch of the gunman, depicting a dark-haired, bearded man wearing glasses.

They have not announced a motive for the twin slayings, but activists near the Al-Furqan Jame Masjid mosque in the Ozone Park section of Queens called it a hate crime.

"Please, read my lips," said Kobir Chowdhury, who heads the nearby Masjid Al-Aman mosque in Brooklyn. "This is a hate crime, no matter which way you look at it."

"It is hate against humanity, it is hate against Muslims," he said. "These are Islamophobes who are causing these kind of troubles."

Members of the Bangladeshi community served by the mosque say they want the shooting treated as a hate crime. About 100 protesters gathered Saturday at the scene of the shooting, chanting, "We want justice!"

Police say the gunman shot both victims in the back of the head and then fled the scene still holding the gun. The victims were identified as 55-year-old Imam Maulama Akonjee and his 64-year-old associate, Thara Uddin.