Priest, 6 officers killed in attacks on synagogue, church in Russia’s Dagestan

Priest, 6 officers killed in attacks on synagogue, church in Russia’s Dagestan

Derbent occupies the narrow gateway between the Caspian Sea and the Caucasus Mountains. Photo by lnur Neciyev/Wikimedia Commons

June 23 (UPI) — A priest and six police officers died in an attack on two Orthodox churches and a synagogue in Russia’s majority Muslim Republic of Dagestan, the national counterterrorism agency and police said Sunday.

The attacks were in the city of Derbent. Also, a police traffic stop in Makhachkala, Dagestan, was hit. The region is in the southernmost tip of Russia, about 2,000 miles south of Moscow, along the Caspian Sea.

Attackers used automatic rifles from three places of worship around 6 p.m. local time before driving away in a white Volkswagen Polo car, officials reported. The synagogue then caught fire.

Father Nikolai, a 66-year-old priest at the Orthodox church, died in a knife attack, Shamil Khadulaev, the chairman of Dagestan’s Public Monitoring Commission, said

Priests locked themselves inside the church and were waiting for help.

A security guard at the Orthodox church in Makhachkala was also killed, Khadulaev said.

In all, another 12 were wounded in the attacks on Derbent and Makhachkala, the spokeswoman for Dagestan’s Interior Ministry, Gayana Gariyeva, told the state-run RIA Novosti news agency.

Elsewhere, a group of unknown assailants attacked the traffic police post in the regional capital of Makhachkala.

Residents of Makhachkala were asked to remain in their homes.

A terror investigation has been launched under the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, the Investigative Directorate of the Investigative Committee of Russia for the Republic of Dagestan said.

“All the circumstances of the incident and the persons involved in the terrorist attacks are being established, and their actions will be given a legal assessment,” the investigative directorate statement said.

More than3.1 million people live in the republic, which is ethnically diverse.

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