MOSCOW: A gunman opened fire Sunday in a cathedral on Russia’s Sakhalin Island in the Pacific, killing a nun and a parishioner and wounding six others, investigators said.
The shooting happened as Russian security forces are on high alert due to concerns about possible attacks on the Winter Olympics in Sochi, thousands of kms to the west. There was no apparent link to the Games.
The gunman was detained at the scene after the shooting at the main cathedral in the city of Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, on the island in the Sea of Okhotsk, north of Japan, the federal Investigative Committee said.
Law enforcement officers were trying to determine why he attacked the Russian Orthodox cathedral in the city of Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, the federal Investigative Committee said in a statement.
Concerns about security in Russia are especially high because of the Winter Olympics in Sochi, but there was no apparent connection to the games. Sakhalin Island is about 7,500 km from Sochi.
The six parishioners who were wounded were hit in the legs and their lives were not in danger, state news agency RIA Novosti reported, citing the regional archbishop.
It added that the suspect had worked as a security guard in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, some 6,650 km from Moscow.
There was no immediate word on a motive in the attack, which came six days after a Moscow teenager killed a teacher and a policeman and held classmates hostage in the first major school shooting in Russia.
Most of the wounded in Sunday’s mid-afternoon attack were shot in the legs and their lives were not in danger, RIA cited the regional leader of the Russian Orthodox Church, Archbishop Tikhon, as saying.
He said a prayer service for the victims would be held later on Sunday at the cathedral, which is the main Russian Orthodox church in a region that includes Sakhalin and the Kurile island chain.
The part of the church where the shooting took place would have to be cleaned of victims’ blood and blessed, he added.
The Investigative Committee said psychiatrists would attempt to determine the suspect’s mental condition.
There have been a handful of shooting sprees in offices and public places in Russia in recent years, but they are relatively rare and state-run media tend to treat such attacks as a largely American phenomenon.
The Feb. 3 shooting at a Moscow school, in which a student used his father’s rifles, has led to calls for stiffer punishment for gun owners whose weapons are used in attacks.