US & Canada

White supremacist's church burns down in North Dakota

the church Image copyright ABC
Image caption The flames were fanned by high winds

A fire that destroyed a church owned by a well-known white supremacist in a small US town is under investigation.

The place of worship in Nome, North Dakota, was recently purchased by Craig Cobb, who tried to set up a whites-only enclave in another part of the state.

The blaze was reported on Wednesday afternoon and the structure was razed by the time fire crews arrived after nearly an hour.

Cobb said the fire at the former Zion Lutheran church was "100% arson".

He told WDAY-TV, a Fargo-based news station, that he is offering a reward of $2,000 (£1,600) to anyone with any information related to the incident, which he said was a direct attack on his life.

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Media captionNeo-Nazi Craig Cobb (centre) apparently imagined Leith would accept the new order. He was wrong

Local residents said that it appeared Cobb had not yet moved into the 108-year-old building.

He says the gas and electric utilities had not been hooked up, so the fire could not have been accidental.

The blaze occurred on the same day that news of the sale appeared on the front page of the Fargo Forum newspaper.

The North Dakota State Fire Marshal's Office is helping with the investigation.

Image copyright AP
Image caption In 2014, Cobb was sentenced to probation for terrorising another town

Cobb told WDAY-TV that he is considering several options about what to do next.

He says he might open a new church called "the President Donald J Trump Church of Rome", not Nome, the town located about 70 miles (112km) southwest of Fargo.

Cobb is one of the best known white supremacists in North America, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups.

In 2011, he began buying run-down properties in the tiny town of Leith, just southwest of Bismarck, North Dakota, with the plan of turning it into an Aryan stronghold.

Three years later he was sentenced to four years of supervised probation for terrorising Leith.

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