'Suspicious' fire breaks out at Houston mosque on Christmas day
A "suspicious" two-alarm fire broke out at a Houston mosque Friday about an hour after services ended, officials said. There were no injuries.
The Christmas Day blaze at the mosque in the city's southwest started around 2:45 p.m. Friday, reported NBC affiliate KPRC in Houston. Officials with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives told the station the fire was deemed suspicious because it had multiple points of origin and was under investigation.
There have been no arrests, the officials said. They are reviewing surveillance footage.
The Houston chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations called on authorities to investigate a possible bias motive in the case.
"Because of the recent spike in hate incidents targeting mosques nationwide, we urge law enforcement authorities to investigate a possible bias motive for this fire," said CAIR-Houston Executive Director Mustafaa Carroll.
It was not clear how much damage the mosque sustained. The Houston Fire Department did not immediately return calls from NBC News, and the ATF was not able to provide additional information.
A recent study found that hate crimes targeting Muslims, their mosques and businesses have tripled this year with most of the incidents occurring in recent weeks. Vandalized mosques have been reported in California, Arizona and Georgia.
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