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Arsonist strikes during church service in Seattle; Molotov cocktails used

SEATTLE -- About fifty people were worshiping inside a Seattle church when someone threw Molotov cocktails at it starting a small fire, the Seattle Fire Department said.

Witnesses began calling 911 just after 8 p.m. Thursday to report a fire outside the Iglesia ni Cristo Church at 7100 42nd Avenue South.

By the time the Seattle Fire Department arrived the fire had already been extinguished.

Seattle Fire spokesman Kristin Tinsley said the fire was started by several Molotov cocktail devices.

Fire investigators spoke with witnesses who said a person had thrown lit bottles of an unknown liquid at the building.

The church was in session at the time, but no injuries have been reported, Tinsley said. Church members say they heard a loud bang coming from the front door as they were worshipping.

There are three spots on the outside of the church that has soot on it but the damage is minimal. Churchgoers say they are grateful the small fires did not grow and penetrate the walls.

The bottles caused minor damage to the exterior of the church and some vehicles outside may have been damaged.

“It’s really unacceptable to do that,” South Seattle resident Ahmed Warsame said.

Warsame does not go to Iglesia Ni Cristo but he says the arson still affects him.

“If you attack any religion you attacking all religions, Muslim or Christian,” Warsame said.

“I have a hard time understanding that human beings would treat human beings that way,” a neighbor said.

Seattle Police Arson/Bomb Squad detectives have taken over the investigation and are working with witnesses to develop a suspect description. On Friday ATF, investigators spent all day collecting new evidence, taking pictures and scanning the spots of the church hit by a Molotov cocktail.

Crime Scene Investigators are currently on scene collecting evidence.