MOSCOW - 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.

Tatarstan's mufti, Ildis Faizov, was hospitalized after the blast hit the vehicle he was in in Tatarstan's capital Kazan, the federal Investigative Committee said in a statement.

His deputy mufti Valiulla Yakupov was shot dead at about the same time at the entrance to his home in Kazan, the committee added.

Militants say they are fighting for a separate Islamic state in the strip of provinces along Russia's southern border and sometimes target mainstream Muslim leaders, who have the backing of regional authorities.

Tatarstan has been largely peaceful and is held out as a showcase of religious tolerance in Russia, which as a whole is predominantly Orthodox Christian.

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