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Gunmen take lives 19 in Russia’s Dagestan region

Messenger Online

Published: 17:18, 24 June 2024

Gunmen take lives 19 in Russia’s Dagestan region

Photo: Collected

Attacks on churches and synagogues in Russia's Dagestan region killed 15 police officers and four civilians, officials said on Monday, (24 June). Stoking fears over Islamist violence in the historically restive North Caucasus.

Sunday's attacks come just three months after Islamic State (IS) group fighters killed more than 140 in a Moscow concert hall, the deadliest attack on Russia for almost 20 years.

Moscow said on Monday it had concluded an "anti-terrorist operation" and killed five of the assailants behind the coordinated attacks in the cities of Makhachkala and Derbent.

The incidents also had echoes of the kind of insurgent violence that marred the North Caucasus during the 1990s and 2000s but the Kremlin on Monday dismissed fears of a renewed wave of attacks.

Russia has been a target for attacks in recent years by IS, which opposes Moscow's military support for Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad and claims to have set-up a "franchise" in Russia's North Caucasus.

- Assailants 'liquidated' -

"According to preliminary data, 15 law enforcement officers were killed, as well as four civilians, including an Orthodox priest," Russia's Investigative Committee, which probes major crimes, said on Monday.

Five assailants had been "liquidated", it said.

It was unclear how many had been involved in the attack.

Russian Orthodox archpriest Nikolai Kotelnikov was killed in his church in Derbent, a historic city on the coast of the Caspian Sea.

The National Antiterrorism Committee, which responds to mass attacks and is tasked with foiling terror plots, said it had wrapped up a rapid response operation at 08:15 am (0515 GMT) on Monday.