Sunday, June 23, 2024

Synagogue, church attacks in Russia’s Dagestan kill police, priest

Gunmen have killed at least eight people – six police officers, a national guard member and a priest – during what appear to be coordinated attacks on a synagogue, an Orthodox church and a police post in the Russian republic of Dagestan, the Ministry of Internal Affairs in Dagestan has said. Twelve people were wounded in the attacks, which took place in the cities of Derbent and Makhachkala on Sunday evening.Both the synagogue and the church are located in Derbent, which is home to ancient Jewish community in the mainly-Muslim North Caucasus region. The police post attack took place in Makhachkala, the capital of Dagestan, approximately 125km (78 miles) away. The synagogue in Derbent was set on fire as a result of the attack, local officials told the Reuters news agency, while eyewitnesses also reported that smoke was rising from the church. Four of the attackers have been shot dead in a subsequent shoot-out, according to Russian news agencies quoting the local interior ministry. The Russian news agency TASS reported that the attackers were members of “an international terrorist organisation”, according to law enforcement agencies. The attackers in Derbent had earlier been seen fleeing in a car. “Tonight in Derbent and Makhachkala, unknown people made attempts to destablise the public situation,” said the Head of the Republic of Dagestan, Sergei Melikov. “Dagestan police officers stood in their way. According to preliminary information, there are casualties among them. All services are acting in accordance with the instruction … The identities of the attackers are being established.” The Israeli foreign ministry said the synagogue in Derbent had been burned to the ground and shots had been fired at a second synagogue in Makhachkala. The statement said it was believed there were no worshippers in the synagogue at the time. Daniel Hawkins, reporting for Al Jazeera from Moscow, said that Dagestan has previously seen separatist violence in the 1990s and early 2000s, Hawkins noted. “Violence there, as the years have gone on, has died down,” Hawkins said, explaining that the region never saw the kind of conflict that engulfed the neighbouring Russian republic of Chechnya, which saw Russian forces and separatists fight two brutal wars during the same period. Source

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