One dead in shooting at mosque in Switzerland - police

This content was published on August 23, 2014 - 11:55

ZURICH (Reuters) - A man was killed on Friday in a shooting at an Albanian mosque in St. Gallen, Switzerland, and another man was arrested, Swiss police said.

Police arrested a man with a handgun after they were called to the mosque in a suburb of the town after reports of gunfire, a spokesman for the cantonal police said.

A 51-year-old Serbian man has confessed to the shooting, police said in a statement on Saturday. The victim, also 51 years old, was a Swiss citizen with Albanian roots.

The victim's body was found in the prayer room of the mosque, the spokesman said, adding it was too early for the police to say what motive there might be for the killing.

Representatives of the El-Hidaje mosque, where the shooting took place, were not immediately available for comment. A former imam of the mosque, Fehim Dragusha, told Reuters the shooting was tied to a long-running feud between two families, whom he knew, and was not politically motivated.

"It's a personal conflict between two families, who were possibly settling a score," said Dragusha, who served as the imam of the El-Hidaje mosque for three years. "It's nothing political at all."

Roughly 400,000 Muslims live in Switzerland, about 5 percent of the population. Concern about immigration in general has been brewing in recent years in a country where foreigners make up nearly a quarter of Switzerland's population of 8 million.

People in the southern Swiss canton of Ticino voted to impose the country's first ban on face-covering veils last year.

In 2009, voters backed a ban on building new minarets and Switzerland's biggest party, the Swiss People's Party (SVP), has long made opposition to immigration a keystone of its electoral appeal.

Swiss voters narrowly backed the party's proposals to reintroduce immigration quotas with the European Union in February, calling into question Switzerland's bilateral accords with the EU.

(Reporting by Alice Baghdjian; Additional reporting by Joshua Franklin; Editing by Gareth Jones)

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