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New York police rule out 'hate crime' in attack on Muslim woman

Attacker was part of a group who had tried to set fire to several people, police say
The man was part of a group targeting several people (Reuters)

New York police say an attack where Muslim woman's clothing was set alight was not a hate crime, after linking the suspects to similar assaults on non-Muslims.

A man who was part of a group set fire to the 35-year-old woman's hijab outside a clothing store in Manhattan on Saturday, police said in a statement.

The victim quickly patted out the flames and was unharmed.

Police said they initially believed the crime, committed a day before the 15th anniversary of the 11 September attacks, may have been prompted by what the woman was wearing.

After further investigation, officers determined that at least three other women were threatened with fire by the same group of suspects on Tuesday, police said.

Those women were not wearing Muslim clothing.

"The motivation for these crimes is not considered to be 'bias-related' at this time," police said.