Priest's throat slit, 15 cops killed in attacks on Russian churches, synagogues

At least five gunmen killed over 15 police officers and a priest and injured several others in coordinated attacks on a synagogue and two churches and a police post in Russia. Later, they were neutralised in counter-operations by the Russian security forces.
Priest's throat slit, 15 cops killed in attacks on Russian churches, synagogues
Anjali Raj / Jaano Junction

More than 15 police officers and a priest were killed and over a dozen others were injured after gunmen, in a series of coordinated attacks, targeted a synagogue, two Orthodox churches, and a police post in Russia's North Caucasus region of Dagestan on Sunday.

There were also civilian casualties, according to officials. However, the total number of deaths has not been confirmed by the Russian authorities. At least 13 police officers and three civilians were also injured in the attacks in Makhachkala.

Five gunmen involved in the attack have also been shot dead, news agency Reuters reported, citing Dagestan's interior ministry. The two terrorists were neutralised in Derbent and three in Makhachkala.

Russia’s National Anti-Terrorist Committee described the attacks as terrorist acts and stated that they have launched a "terror investigation" into the shootings. The authorities also announced a counter-terrorist operation in the region. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attacks.

Both the synagogue and the church are located in Derbent, which is home to an ancient Jewish community in the mainly-Muslim North Caucasus region. The police post attack took place in Makhachkala, the capital of Dagestan, bordering Georgia and Azerbaijan.

"This evening in the cities of Derbent and Makhachkala armed attacks were carried out on two Orthodox churches, a synagogue and a police check-point. As a result of the terrorist attacks, according to preliminary information, a priest from the Russian Orthodox Church and police officers were killed, Russia's National Antiterrorism Committee said in a statement.

Dagestan Public Monitoring Commission Chairman, Shamil Khadulaev, told, “According to the information I received, Father Nikolay was killed in the church in Derbent; they slit his throat. He was 66 years old and very ill".

The priest killed during an attack on a church in Derbent was identified as Father Nikolay and as per Khadulaev, the attackers killed him by slitting his throat.

"They slit his throat. He was 66 years old and very ill," Khadulaev said, as per CNN.

Purported visuals of the attack shared on social media show multiple armed men in black attire opening fire at police vehicles and the public as they roam the streets. Among the wounded people, the majority are police officers.

The synagogue, located in an ancient Jewish community in the South Caucasus and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, was on fire after the attack. According to Russia Today, the gunmen used firebombs to set the building ablaze.

The Governor of the Dagestan region, Sergei Melikov, said, "We understand who is behind the organisation of the terrorist attacks and what goal they pursued". In another statement, he stated, “unknown persons made attempts to destabilise the social situation. Dagestan police officers stood in their way. According to preliminary information, there are victims among them".

June 24-26 have been declared days of mourning in Dagestan, with flags lowered to half-staff and all entertainment events cancelled, the Governor added.

The Israel Foreign Ministry, in response to the attack, issued a statement saying that the synagogue in Derbent had been burned to the ground and shots had been fired at a second synagogue in Makhachkala. It added that it was believed there were no worshippers in the synagogue at the time.

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Priest's throat slit, 15 cops killed in attacks on Russian churches, synagogues

The Russian agencies reported that street fights were gripping Makhachkala, the chief administrative town in Dagestan. In the 2000s, Dagestan was hit by an Islamist insurgency spilling over from neighbouring Chechnya. The Russian security forces launched aggressive operations to combat extremists in the region.

Source: India Today

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