Russia: Deadly Violence Strikes Churches and Synagogue in Dagestan
Russia: Deadly Violence Strikes Churches and Synagogue in Dagestan

RUSSIA: Gunmen launched attacks on churches, a synagogue, and a police post in Dagestan, a region in Russia's North Caucasus. At least 15 police and National Guard officers, several civilians, and an Orthodox priest lost their lives in these assaults, authorities reported.

The attacks, which occurred on Sunday during the Russian Orthodox Church's celebration of Pentecost, left at least 12 people injured in the cities of Derbent and Makhachkala.

Videos circulating on social media and Russian TV depicted scenes of smoke and flames in Derbent, where an ancient Jewish community resides. The synagogue there was set ablaze. Similar attacks occurred in Makhachkala, Dagestan's capital and largest city, located about 125 kilometers (78 miles) from Derbent. The gunmen also targeted a police post in Makhachkala.

The Russian Investigative Committee has launched criminal investigations into these "acts of terror." Dagestan, neighboring Chechnya, is one of Russia's poorest regions and has a history of violence and unrest.

The National Anti-terrorism Committee released a statement via the RIA Novosti news agency, confirming the attacks. "This evening in the cities of Derbent and Makhachkala, armed attacks were carried out on two Orthodox churches, a synagogue, and a police checkpoint," the statement read. "As a result of the terrorist attacks, a priest from the Russian Orthodox Church and police officers were killed."

The Russian Orthodox Church mourned the loss of Archpriest Nikolai Kotelnikov, who was "brutally killed" in Derbent.

The synagogue attack in Derbent happened about 40 minutes before evening prayers were scheduled to begin. Boruch Gorin, chairman of the public council of Russia’s Federation of Jewish Communities, confirmed the fires in both Derbent and Makhachkala synagogues on Telegram.

Authorities have linked these attacks to an international terrorist organization, although specific details remain unclear as investigations continue.

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