Russian investigators work near the scene of a car bomb blast in the city of Kazan July 19, 2012. The most senior Islamic official in Russia's largely Muslim Tatarstan region was wounded in a car bomb attack and his deputy was killed in a separate shooting on Thursday, law enforcement officials said. (Reuters Pictures)
MOSCOW (Reuters) - The senior Islamic official in Russia's largely Muslim Tatarstan region was wounded in a bomb attack and a deputy was killed in a separate shooting on Thursday, rocking a province seen as a showcase of religious tolerance in Russia.
Tatarstan's mufti, Ildis Faizov, was hospitalized after three powerful blasts threw him from a vehicle in Tatarstan's capital Kazan, the federal Investigative Committee said.
Reuters television footage showed the vehicle engulfed in flames and billowing smoke on a wide, green-lined avenue in central Kazan, a popular destination for tourists from Moscow, about 735 km (450 miles) east of Russia's capital.
Around the same time, deputy mufti Valiulla Yakupov was shot dead outside his home, the Investigative Committee said.
Militants fighting to carve an Islamic state out of a strip of mainly Muslim regions of the Caucasus along Russia's southern flank sometimes target mainstream Muslim leaders, who are backed by the authorities.