Arsonist who burned California mosque referred to New Zealand attack in graffiti: Police

KLH49/iStock(ESCONDIDO, Calif.) -- Someone set fire to a mosque in Southern California on Sunday and left graffiti referencing the deadly terror attack at two mosques in New Zealand, authorities said.

Seven people were inside the Dar-ul-Arqam mosque in the city of Escondido when the blaze erupted Sunday during the early morning hours. They managed to extinguish the flames before firefighters arrived, and the building was left with only minor damage to the exterior facade.

No one was injured, according to Escondido Police Lt. Chris Lick.

Authorities discovered graffiti left behind at the scene by the suspect that referred to the recent massacre in New Zealand, in which worshipers were gunned down inside the Al Noor mosque in the city of Christchurch and then at a nearby mosque in the suburb of Linwood on March 15. At least 50 people were killed, and dozens more were injured, making it the deadliest terror attack in the country's history.

The fire in Escondido is being investigated as both an arson and hate crime, according to Lick. There have been no suspects identified, and the investigation is ongoing.

Agents from the FBI as well as the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are assisting with the investigation.

"Members of the public are encouraged to call the police department to report suspicious activity in the area of the mosque," Lick said in a statement Sunday.

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