The riot at the Sri Maha Mahariamman temple in Subang Jaya this morning erupted after a heated exchange between devotees and a group of 50 people, according to the police.
Selangor police chief Mazlan Mansor said initial findings revealed that the 50 comprised of other races in the temple compound while another group devotees were monitoring the area outside the temple.
"The two groups traded insults and dares, after which there was a clash between the two sides," he told a press conference at the Subang Jaya district police headquarters this afternoon.
Mazlan said after the clash, the group of 50 fled from the temple. Two of them were injured.
According to him, 18 vehicles were torched during the incident. The temple sustained minimal damage.
Mazlan said police also found weapons, including machetes, at the scene.
The Selangor police chief also appealed for calm and urged all quarters to leave the matter to the police to investigate.
"Don't take the law into your own hands. We are here to protect the situation," he said, adding that as of noon, seven suspects have been detained to facilitate investigations.
Mazlan said 738 Federal Reserve Unit (FRU) personnel were dispatched to the scene, and the case is being investigated for trespassing, rioting and treachery.
He added that it was still premature to establish a motive for the intrusion.
Probe attempt to create racial discord
Meanwhile, a Selangor state executive councillor urged the police to investigate an alleged attempt to create racial tensions over the incident.
"The attack by a group of gangsters shows there are attempts to create disharmony among the races who have been living peacefully all this time," said V Ganabatirau in a statement.
"I urge police to investigate this incident thoroughly and provide necessary protection to the civilians in accordance with Article 11 (on freedom of religion) of our Constitution," he added.
Devotees had reportedly gathered at the temple to protect it from demolition when the group turned up.
The temple was supposed to have been relocated on Nov 22.
Plans to relocate the temple have been ongoing since 2007, after the land it is located on was purchased by One City Development Sdn Bhd.
In 2014, a consent judgment was entered into in court, where One City and two rival camps vying for control of the temple agreed to relocate it to a plot of land 3km away.
One City had also donated RM1.5 million to the temple as part of the settlement agreement.
However, devotees have continued to resist efforts to relocate the temple, which was built in 1891.