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US Authorities Investigate Fires at Black Churches

  • VOA News

A fire at Glover Grover Baptist Church, in Warrenville, South Carolina, early June 26, 2015, is under investigation. (Courtesy: SPLC)

A fire at Glover Grover Baptist Church, in Warrenville, South Carolina, early June 26, 2015, is under investigation. (Courtesy: SPLC)

U.S. federal authorities say they are investigating a series of fires at predominantly black churches in recent days, but there is no indication the blazes are related.

The FBI and the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are investigating the fires, which have occurred at six different churches in five southern states.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, a civil rights group that tracks hate crimes, said only three of the six fires appear to be true cases of arson.

An official with that group, Mark Potok, told ABC News while those three fires at churches in Tennessee, Georgia and North Carolina may have been intentionally set, it is unlikely they were done in an organized and unified fashion.

The fires have come in the days following the June 17 shooting by a white gunman that killed nine people at Emanuel AME church, a historically black church in Charleston, South Carolina. The suspected gunman, Dylann Roof, had posted pictures of himself on the Internet with symbols of white supremacy.

The fires also occurred at a time when there has been increasing public pressure to remove the Confederate flag from government buildings and public places.

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