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Fire Damages Historic Mosque in Greece | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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The 15th century Ottoman Bayezid mosque is seen damaged following a fire at the northeastern town of Didymoteicho, Greece, March 22, 2017. Alexandra Gidika/Eurokinissi via REUTERS

London- A fire has caused serious damage to the historic 15th century Bayezid Ottoman mosque in Didymoteicho, northeastern Greece, local officials said Wednesday.

Nathanail Rigas, head firefighter of the Thrace region bordering Turkey, told Agence France Presse that restoration work could have sparked the fire at the mosque.

He said an investigation had begun and would rule nothing out.

“For the moment there is no indication that arson was involved,” Rigas told AFP.

Didymoteicho mayor Paraskevas Patsouridis said the mosque’s ornate oak roof sustained “serious damage” from the fire, which broke out in the early hours and was tackled by more than 50 firefighters.

Patsouridis said no work had been going on at the site when the blaze started around 0100 GMT.

Greek police said a smaller fire had broken out on Tuesday — reportedly during welding — and had apparently been extinguished, but likely flared anew.

The mosque — a cultural monument not in use for prayer — is considered the largest in southeastern Europe and of unique architectural and historical importance.

The Greek region of Thrace has a Muslim minority of Turkish origin numbering around 100,000.