MOSCOW, December 12 (RIA Novosti) – A group of Islamists have been detained on suspicion of arson attacks on churches in Russia's Republic of Tatarstan, local police said Thursday.
The young men from a non-traditional Islamic group, aged between 22 and 35, allegedly set two Orthodox churches on fire in mid-November using Molotov cocktails, the Interior Ministry said in a statement.
A wooden church in the village of Lenino was completely destroyed, while in the second case a guard managed to put out a fire in a church in the town of Chistopol, the ministry said.
Police are investigating whether the suspects were behind two other arson attacks last month on churches in Tatarstan, a predominantly Muslim republic.
Muslims and Christians have traditionally lived in harmony in Tatarstan. In the last few years, a number of violent incidents have taken place, including an attempt on the life of the most senior Muslim cleric in the republic in 2012, that the authorities blamed on Islamist radicals from the north Caucasus.