55 arrested in England as 'sword-wielding gang' storm mixed-race wedding

The incident took place in the early hours of Sunday morning

image via Wikimedia

image via Wikimedia

Police have arrested 55 people and seized a "significant number" of bladed weapons after reports a sword-wielding gang stormed a Sikh temple.

Armed police surrounded the Gurdwara Sahib in Leamington Spa after they were called to the temple on Tachbrook Drive at 6.47am.

Police negotiators and religious leaders went into the building to try to end the stand-off.

The storming of the temple may have something to do with a mixed-race wedding, Sky News has been told.

A wedding between a Sikh and a non-Sikh was due to take place at the venue on Sunday.

One Sikh worshipper, who asked not to be named, told Sky News: "We were working in the kitchen at the temple early this morning when a group of men arrived. There was to have been a wedding here today, a mixed marriage, but it was clear that they didn't want it to go ahead."

"Then just before 0700 the police turned up. Everybody is just shocked. This kind of thing is completely alien to us. Some people said the men had come from as far as Manchester. We didn't recognise any of them."

Some Sikhs have reportedly previously objected to mixed-race marriages being held at the site.

A police cordon was put up around the temple and passers-by have been told to avoid the area until the matter is fully resolved.

Officers were seen taking evidence bags from inside the temple and talking to a group of masked men outside.

Warwickshire police said fifty-five people have been arrested on suspicion of aggravated trespass.

Superintendent David Gardner said: "We would like to reassure people that this was a contained incident that we believe was an escalation of a local dispute. A significant number of bladed weapons were seized from the scene. As a result of reports that the men were in possession of these weapons we deployed armed officers as a precaution. Nobody was injured in the incident."

"Over the coming days we will be working with local the Sikh community to address some of the ongoing issues that have culminated in today's events. We would like to thank local people for their patience while we dealt with this incident."

Some comments on Twitter discussing what had happened appeared to suggest it had been prompted by a protest over the commercial use of the venue.

A group calling themselves Sikh Youth Birmingham posted on its Facebook page a video showing a couple of dozen men dressed in black sitting on a floor with signs up saying "stop violating Sikh principles for money!!".

One post from the group said: "Armed police called to Leamington Gurdwara on 100 peaceful Sikh protestors, who have come to uphold the sanctity of the sacred Anand Karaj."

The Sikh Federation UK, which represents some Sikhs in Britain, described the armed response as "unnecessary".

The group tweeted: "Totally uncalled for & unnecessary #PeacefulProtest"