Two killed in Russian church attack

The gunman, who opened fire on a cathedral on the island of Sakhalin, was detained at the scene.

The shooting happened as Russian security forces are on high alert about possible attacks on the Sochi Winter Olympics. Picture: Sxc.hu.

MOSCOW - A gunman has opened fire in a Russian Orthodox cathedral on the island of Sakhalin, off Russia's eastern coast, killing a nun and a churchgoer and wounding six other people.

The shooting happened as Russian security forces are on high alert due to concerns about possible attacks on the Winter Olympics in Sochi, thousands of kilometres to the west.

The gunman was detained at the scene after the shooting at the main cathedral in the city of Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, on the island in the Sea of Okhotsk, north of Japan.

It added that the suspect had worked as a security guard in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk.

There has been no immediate word on a motive in the attack, which came six days after a Moscow teenager killed a teacher and a policeman and held classmates hostage in the first major school shooting in Russia.

There have been a handful of shooting sprees in offices and public places in Russia in recent years, but they are relatively rare and state-run media tend to treat such attacks as a largely American phenomenon.