Gunman kills two in Russian cathedral shooting

Officials have said there is no link to the Sochi Winter Olympics

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The Independent Online

A gunman has killed two people and injured six after opening fire in a Russian Orthodox cathedral on Sunday, officials have said.

A nun and a parishioner were fatally wounded in the attack in the city of Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk on the island of Sakhalin, off Russia’s eastern coast,

The shooting comes at a time when concerns about security in the country are especially high because of the Winter Olympics in Sochi.

But there was no apparent link to the games, which are being held about 7,500 kilometres (4,500) miles away to the west.

The gunman, who had worked as a security guard in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, was detained at the scene, the federal Investigative Committee said.

There was no immediate word on a motive for the attack, which came just six days after a Moscow teenager killed a teacher and a policeman and held classmates hostage, in what was Russia’s first major school shooting.

Most of the six people injured in Sunday’s mid-afternoon attack were shot in the legs and their lives were not in danger, state news agency RIA Novosti reported the regional leader of the Russian Orthodox Church, Archbishop Tikhon, as saying.

He said a prayer service would be held for the victims later on Sunday at the cathedral after the part of the church where the shooting took place had been cleaned of the victims' blood and blessed.

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 Moscow school shooting, in which the student involved used his father's rifles, has led to calls for stiffer punishment for gun owners whose weapons are used in attacks.

Additional reporting by Reuters