The most senior Islamic official in Russia’s largely Muslim Tatarstan region has been wounded in a car bomb attack and his deputy was killed in a separate shooting.
The Mufti of Tatarstan, Ildus Fayzov, was injured when his car was blown up as he left a radio station in the city of Kazan, about 735km east of Moscow, on Thursday, the federal Investigative Committee said in a statement.
His Deputy Mufti Valiulla Yakupov was shot dead at about the same time at the entrance to his home in Kazan, the committee added.
There were no immediate claims of responsibility for the attacks. Tatarstan, in central Russia, has a large Muslim population.
The motive in this case is unclear, but Vladimir Markin, a spokesman for Russia’s Investigative Committee, said both leaders were known for fighting extremism and their professional activity was being investigated as one of the reasons for the attacks.
Muslim rebels say they are fighting for a separate Islamic state in the strip of provinces along Russia’s southern border and sometimes target mainstream Muslim leaders, who have the backing of regional authorities and Moscow.
But their activities have been mostly contained to the Muslim republics of Chechnya, Dagestan and Ingushetia in the North Caucasus.
Tatarstan has been largely peaceful and is held out as a showcase of religious tolerance in Russia, which as a whole is predominantly Orthodox Christian.