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Tatar Leader In St. Petersburg Says Attack On Muslim Store 'Provocation'

ST. PETERSBURG -- The leader of an ethnic Tatar organization in St. Petersburg says an attack on a Muslim-run grocery is a "provocation," RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service reports.

Renat Valiev, the head of the cultural organization Tatarstan, told RFE/RL today that he does not think extremists organized the May 5 attack, in which a grenade thrown inside the August halal food shop injured three people.

Police said shop manager Tamerlan Kazeev, 61, and employees Abdulatip Mamadjanov and Diana Psaplagarova, both 24, were wounded in the attack. They are still in hospital but their injuries are not life-threatening.

Police have launched an investigation into the incident and said they suspect "Slavic extremists" organized the attack.

But Valiev is skeptical of that charge. "The area near the city's central mosque is heavily guarded by police," he said. "It is difficult to approach the food store with a grenade. And who wants to blow up sausages? This is a provocation."

Valiev did not say who he thinks is behind the attack.

Scores of foreigners and ethnic minorities have been injured and dozens killed in racially motivated attacks in Russia in the past year.

There are an estimated 300,000 ethnic Tatars in St. Petersburg.