Deadly attacks on Dagestan synagogues and churches

Gunmen in Russia’s North Caucasus republic of Dagestan have killed six police officers in a series of attacks, security officials said.

A synagogue, two churches and a police checkpoint were targeted in the cities of Derbent and Makhachkala. Twelve other officers were injured.

State media reported that a Russian Orthodox priest was also killed and four attackers were shot dead.

The attackers have not been identified, but Dagestan has been the scene of Islamist attacks in the past.

Footage posted on social media showed people wearing dark clothes shooting at police cars, before a convoy of emergency services arrived at the scene in Makhachkala, Dagestan’s largest city.

In Derbent – home to an ancient Jewish community – gunmen attacked a synagogue and a church. Local officials said both buildings burned.

An unofficial channel on the Telegram messaging app Mash said the gunmen were barricaded in a building in Derbent.

AFP news agency reported that the Russian Investigative Committee has opened an investigation into “terrorist acts”.

Then on Sunday, police arrested Magomed Omarov, a prominent local politician who heads the Sergokalinsky district, after reports that his two sons were among the attackers.

Dagestan is a predominantly Muslim republic. This is also one of the poorest regions in Russia.

Less than a week ago, the deputy director of the FSB, Russia’s domestic security agency, chaired a meeting in Makhachkala to discuss “anti-terrorism measures.” The aim is to increase security for “transportation, hotels and other public areas”.

In April, the FSB arrested four people in Dagestan suspected of involvement attack on the Crocus City Hall site in Moscow last month.

More than 140 people were killed in that attack, for which the Islamic State group claimed responsibility.

From 2007 to 2017, a jihadist organization called the Caucasus Emirate, and later the Islamic Emirate of the Caucasus, staged attacks in Dagestan and neighboring Russian republics of Chechnya, Ingushetia and Kabardino-Balkaria.


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