One day after someone started a fire in a bathroom of a south Minneapolis mosque, another fire was set on the third floor of a different mosque less than a mile away.

Dozens of Muslim community leaders and imams condemned the alleged attacks at a Tuesday news conference at the Masjid Al Rahma mosque, the site of the second mosque fire. Several raised concerns that the alleged anti-Muslim attack Monday could have been more tragic, given that about 50 day care children and 50 worshipers were inside.

"When these attacks happen, it's to our children, and that's what makes it even more disturbing and personal for me," said Nimco Ahmed, president of the Somali American Coalition Action Fund, as she held her 3-year-old daughter. "It's very sad because this state that we call home is so precious to us."

About 6:30 p.m. Monday, security guard Bahikoro Kouyate said he noticed smoke and fire coming from a third floor hallway at the Mercy Islamic Center, which contains the mosque in the 2600 block of Bloomington Avenue. The building was evacuated, including the day care in the basement. He said it was fortunate a fire station was directly across the street.

"Thank God the fire (department) was here," Kouyate said.

The flames were fully extinguished by 7:30 p.m., the Minneapolis Fire Department said. Early estimates indicate the damages could be $50,000, community leaders said.

Minneapolis police responded Sunday about 7 p.m. to the fire at the Masjid Omar Islamic Center, in the 24 Somali Mall in the Ventura Village neighborhood. The suspect, described as a white man, entered the building with a red gas canister filled with flammable liquid before lighting a fire in the bathroom, according to a news release from the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).

Worshippers used a fire extinguisher to put out the fire, CAIR said.

Police released security photos of the suspect, who appeared to be wearing a black skullcap, glasses, a blue facemask and a gray hoodie.

Police suspect the man in both mosque fires, along with previous property damage incidents, including one in January, Minneapolis Police Chief Brian O'Hara said at the news conference.

O'Hara said police are investigating whether it was an anti-Muslim bias crime, and said he meets with with victims anytime there's a possible hate crime incident.

In response, the department is increasing the presence of officers at Muslim community centers and is taking other protective measures that O'Hara did not detail. Crime prevention specialists were sent to mosques to advise staff on how to increase security at the sites, he said.

"We're very confident that we will be able to bring this person to justice, but in the meantime we cannot afford to have anything else happen, and we want to be able to ensure that all people can be safe," O'Hara said.

Police ask that anyone with information about the suspect to email or call 612-673-5845. CAIR Minnesota announced a $5,000 reward to anyone who provides information that leads to an arrest.

More than a dozen news conference speakers voiced support for the Muslim community and lamented that it is too often the target of Islamophobic attacks.

"We've got to do something," said Minneapolis Council Member Jamal Osman. "Hate cannot win in our state."

A solidarity event is set for 6 p.m. Saturday at the Masjid Al Rahma mosque.