AN assailant has sprayed a Roman Catholic priest with flammable liquid and set him alight during mass in a church in Lithuania, police in the Baltic state say.
Father Remigijus Kuprys, 46, managed to extinguish the flames with the help of worshippers, but suffered facial burns.
The attack occurred during the service yesterday in the central Lithuanian town of Jonava, when a 42-year-old local resident sprayed Kuprys with the flammable liquid and set it ablaze with a cigarette lighter.
The motives of the assailant, identified by police only by his initials JD, were unknown.
“We have reports that he had repeatedly disrupted masses and shouted weird statements. Investigators are deciding on psychiatric tests,” officer Mindaugas Juknys said today.
The suspect did not resist arrest when police arrived at the church. If considered mentally fit to stand trial, he risks up to 10 years in jail for the assault.
Police said that the priest had been released from hospital after receiving treatment for his burns.
Lithuanian daily Lietuvos Rytas today published a photograph of Kuprys with his face fully bandaged, with only the eyes and mouth visible.
Around 80 per cent of Lithuania’s three million residents are Roman Catholic.