Deadly attacks on synagogue and churches in Dagestan

Gunmen in the Russian republic of Dagestan, in the North Caucasus, killed six police officers in a series of attacks, security officials say.

In the cities of Derbent and Makhachkala, a synagogue, two churches and a police checkpoint were attacked. Twelve other officers were injured.

A Russian Orthodox priest was also killed and four attackers were shot dead, state media report.

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

Footage posted on social media shows people dressed in dark shooting at police cars, before a convoy of emergency service vehicles arrives at the scene in Makhachkala, Dagestan’s largest city.

In Derbent, home to an ancient Jewish community, gunmen attacked a synagogue and a church. Both buildings were burned, local authorities say.

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

Russia’s Investigative Committee has launched an investigation into “acts of terrorism,” the AFP news agency reported.

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

Dagestan is a predominantly Muslim republic. It is also one of the poorest areas in Russia.

Less than a week ago, the deputy head of the FSB, Russia’s internal security service, chaired a meeting in Makhachkala to discuss “anti-terrorist measures.” The goal was to strengthen the security of “transport, hotels and other massive public areas.”

In April, the Federal Security Service detained four people in Dagestan suspected of involvement in The attack on the Crocus City Hall headquarters in Moscow The last month.

More than 140 people died in that attack, claimed by the Islamic State group.

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

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