A young Muslim girl has been found dead after being kidnapped outside a mosque in the US state of Virginia, police say.
Nabra Hassanen, 17, was abducted and later on murdered as she left the All Dulles Area Muslim Society (ADAMS) mosque about 30 miles outside Washington on Sunday.
The girl was with her friends when they engaged in a dispute with a motorist, who left his car and assaulted them, according to a statement by the Fairfax County Police Department.
Nabra's friends, who had scattered around during the brawl, could not find her at the scene afterwards, the statement added.
The victim’s body was found in a pond after an hours-long search of the area with a baseball bat next to her. Nabra’s friends said the assailant had swiped a baseball bat at them.
Police said they had arrested a motorist “driving suspiciously in the area.” The driver, later identified as identified as 22-year-old Darwin Martinez Torres, was charged with the girl’s murder.
Authorities said they did not rule out hate as the underlying motivation for the murder.
"We are devastated and heartbroken as our community undergoes and processes this traumatic event," ADAMS said in a statement.
The incident came as officials in New York stepped up security measures around local mosques in the wake of a deadly attack on fasting Muslims outside a mosque in London.
London police confirmed on Sunday night that one man was pronounced dead at the scene and at least eight were injured after a vehicle rammed into worshipers coming out of the mosque in the Finsbury Park area.
Some major US cities had already sent extra law enforcement officers to guard mosques since the beginning of the holy month of Ramadan.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations said in a report early last month that the number of such incidents increased 57 percent in 2016.
A total of 2,213 anti-Muslim incidents were recorded across the country, up from 1,409 in 2015. There was also a 44 percent rise in hate crimes in the same period. Incidents had increased 5 percent in 2015 from the year before.