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Woman fatally stabbed at Punjabi-English newspaper in Surrey, B.C.

The Indo-Canadian community in Surrey braced for the worst when news broke that a woman who worked at a Punjabi-English newspaper in Surrey was fatally stabbed at the office.

The attack was reminiscent of violence at a Punjabi newspaper office in 1988 that left publisher Tara Singh Hayer paralyzed. He was murdered 10 years later.

In the Sikh community, however, reports quickly began circulating that the stabbing was a domestic attack. Police later confirmed that the attack was not related to the woman's place of work. The police also gave assurances that the stabbing was not a random incident.

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"The suspect and the victim had been married since 2009," Sergeant Jennifer Pound, of the integrated homicide investigation team, stated in a news release. She did not identify a motive for the attack.

"Investigators are conducting interviews with witnesses and will be canvassing the areas to speak with any additional witnesses," she said.

The newspaper Sach di Awaaz is located in a strip mall on 128 Street in Surrey. The 26-year old assailant, who police have not identified, ran into the second-storey newspaper office and stabbed 24-year-old Surrey resident Ravinder Kaur Bhangu several times, police said.

The punjabi media reported that Ms. Bhangu had worked at the office of the newspaper known for its moderate views.

Police said a man at the office had tried unsuccessfully to intervene in the fatal stabbing. The man, whom police have not yet identified, tried to stop the assailant as he was slashing the woman.

"One might call him a hero. In this case, he reacted on instinct, I'm guessing," Sgt. Pound told reporters earlier Thursday.

"He felt the need to do this," she said. "He was really lucky to come out with the minor injuries he did."

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The man had cuts and scratches and required stitches, Sgt. Pound said. He was taken to the hospital, treated for his injuries and released.

The suspect initially refused to identify himself. Police determined who he is hours later.

Yellow police tape held the public back from the office building that included the newspaper office.

Standing on the pavement near a stairwell to the second-floor offices, Sgt. Pound would not say whether a weapon was recovered at the scene.

Ms. Bhangu appeared to be the victim of multiple stab wounds. But Sgt. Pound declined to confirm reports of what occurred inside the office or even where the stabbing took place.

Sgt. Pound confirmed the woman was dead when emergency personnel arrived.

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The man in custody is expected to appear in court in Surrey on Friday. Police will recommend homicide charges against him, Sgt. Pound said.

Rattan Mall, editor of Asian Journal, a weekly newspaper of southeast Asian news, said he has been told the incident had nothing to do with Sikh politics.

"It's a shock, that something like this could happen," he said in an interview.

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About the Author
B.C. reporter

Ian Bailey is a Vancouver-based reporter for The Globe and Mail.  He covers politics and general news. Prior to arriving at The Globe and Mail, he reported from Toronto and St. John’s for The Canadian Press.  He has also covered British Columbia for CP, The National Post and The Province. More

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