Gunmen open fire on synagogue and church killing at least 15 police officers


At least nine people have been killed and 25 were injured after gunmen opened fire in a series of shootings in Russia’s Dagestan region.

The attacks targeted a synagogue and an Orthodox church in Derbent as well as a traffic police post later in Makhachkala.

Among those killed were six policemen, one national guard officer, and two civilians – one reportedly a priest.

Four of the gunmen have reportedly been shot dead.

Pic: BNO News
The scene in Derbent. Pic: BNO News

Plumes of smoke rise from a building in Derbent. Pic: Reuters
Pic: Reuters

A local official said another gunman had been killed during a shootout at a church in Makhachkala, the North Caucasus region’s main administrative centre.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attacks, which Russia’s national anti-terrorism committee blamed on “terrorists”.

“Unidentified people fired at a synagogue and a church with automatic weapons,” Reuters reported the interior ministry said.

The synagogue and church were both set on fire, added the ministry.

The attackers then reportedly fled in a car.

Footage of a reported shootout between gunmen and police in Makhachkala, Dagestan, Russia
Footage of a reported shootout between gunmen and police in Makhachkala

There was later an exchange of gunfire at a police post in Makhachkala, about 125km (75 miles) to the north along the Caspian Sea coast, Reuters added.

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Derbent is home to an ancient Jewish community in the South Caucasus and a UNESCO world heritage site.

Dagestan, which borders Georgia and Azerbaijan, is a mainly Muslim region in southern Russia.

In the 2000s, Dagestan was hit by an Islamist insurgency spilling over from neighbouring Chechnya, with Russian security forces trying to combat extremists in the region.

In recent years, attacks became rarer, with Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) saying in 2017 that it had defeated the uprising.

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