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Representative picture. Photo: AFP

Armed men barged into a Gurdwara in California city and took away the money from a donation box kept inside the complex, police said.

According to the local Livingston police in California, three robbers entered the Gurdwara through the front door early Sunday morning. One of the men was
armed with a gun, while another with a knife. The third robber was unarmed.

The three men took a few thousand dollars from a donation box and left through a side door, joining two other men who were waiting outside, local newspaper Merced Sunstar quoted police as saying yesterday.

North American Punjabi Association (NAPA) president Satnam Singh Chahal also that the three men took money from the donation box and left through a side door.

Police Chief Ruben Chavez said all of the men were wearing hooded jackets or sweatshirts, concealing their identities. Police are searching for three unidentified men.

Chavez said while money has been stolen from the donation box before, it's the first robbery that he knows of at the Gurdwara. "This is more brazen because they did come in armed. Obviously it's someone who knew the temple because they knew where to go," he was quoted as saying.

"We're looking at different angles, and we will do our best to get to the bottom of it. We really want to identify who they are," Chavez said.

Sikhs make up nearly 20 per cent of Livingston's population.

In August, a Wisconsin shooting rampage at a Sikh Gurdwara left seven people dead.

Mayor Pro Tem Gurpal Samra, who worships at both of the city's Sikh Gurudwaras, classified Sunday's robbery as "very disturbing."

"I was in Fresno when I got the call," Samra said. "The first thing that flashed in my mind was Wisconsin, right away."

The Wisconsin incident was one of the reasons officials at the temple had surveillance cameras installed, said Narinder Dola, vice president of the temple.

Three person, including a woman, were present inside the Gurudwara at the time of incident.

Dola was glad those inside the Gurdwara didn't confront the robbers. "I think they did the smart move, they didn't do anything, they just kept quiet."

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