An Antioch mosque that had previously been burglarized and vandalized was badly damaged by arson over the weekend, authorities said Monday.
The blaze early Sunday caused an estimated $200,000 in damage to the Islamic Center of the East Bay and left the one-story structure on West 18th Street uninhabitable. Six engines responded to the blaze, which was reported around 12:30 a.m. Sunday and was out within half an hour, said Contra Costa County Fire District spokeswoman Emily Hopkins.
Hopkins said that arson investigators have some promising leads, but that there is no evidence the fire had been set because the building was a mosque.
"Of course, it's still under investigation," she said. "We don't rule that out, but at this point we don't see any evidence (of a hate crime)."
The FBI and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, however, are also investigating because a mosque was targeted, and one Bay Area Muslim leader called the fire "an act of terror against our community," saying vandals have targeted the building several times in recent months. [Link]
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