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Russia: around ten dead in attacks on Orthodox churches and at least one synagogue

Armed men attacked Orthodox churches and at least one synagogue in the Russian Caucasus were attacked on Sunday, killing around ten people, including a priest and police officers, officials said. the authorities, by denouncing “terrorist” acts.

The attacks took place in the capital of the Russian republic of Dagestan, Makhachkala, and the coastal city of Derbent. Dagestan is a predominantly Muslim Russian region neighboring Chechnya, also close to Georgia and Azerbaijan. Anti-terrorist operations are regularly announced there by the Russian authorities.

There is no evidence to determine the motivations or identities of the perpetrators of these attacks, which appear to be coordinated. The Russian Investigative Committee indicated that it had opened a criminal investigation into “terrorist acts”, without further details.

The leader of Dagestan, Sergei Melikov, said on Sunday evening that “unknown persons had tried to destabilize society”. “We know who is behind these terrorist attacks and what objective they are pursuing,” he added later, without specifying who was in the sights but referring to the war in Ukraine.

“We must understand that war comes to our homes too. We felt it, but today we face it”, he said.

He added that “the active phase” of operations in Derbent and Makhachkala “was over” and that “six bandits had been liquidated.” The authorities will try to find “all the members of these sleeper cells who prepared (the attacks) and who were prepared, including abroad”, he added.

Patriarch Kirill, head of the Russian Orthodox Church and fervent supporter of the Kremlin, assured that the “enemy” was seeking to destroy “inter-religious peace” in Russia. Its goal is to “plant the seeds of hatred”, he denounced, without naming those responsible.

Sunday's attacks targeted “two Orthodox churches , a synagogue and a police checkpoint,” announced the Russian Anti-Terrorism Committee, cited by the Ria Novosti agency. Jewish representatives, including the Russian Jewish Congress, said a second synagogue was also burned.

A 66-year-old priest of the Russian Orthodox Church , was killed in Derbent, according to authorities. Six police officers were killed and 13 others injured, according to the Dagestan Interior Ministry. Authorities later said a National Guard officer also died, and another police officer succumbed to his injuries.

That's nine deaths in total, although the authorities have not released an overall figure. A total of 16 people, including 13 police officers, were injured and hospitalized, according to the ministry.

Armed individuals also opened fire on a vehicle carrying police officers, injuring one of them, in Sergokala, a village located between Makhachkala and Derbent, the local Interior Ministry further specified to Russian agencies.

Three days of mourning have been declared in Dagestan, from Monday to Wednesday, the local administration indicated.

– Synagogue on fire –

The synagogues of Derbent and Makhachkala were set on fire, according to the chairman of the Public Council of Jewish Communities of the Russian Federation, Boruch Gorin.

Images, taken up by the Russian media, showed a building in flames, presented as a synagogue.

In other videos, gunshots could be heard in the streets of Makhachkala, where a large police force was deployed.

The authenticity of these images is not could not be immediately verified by AFP.

In October, riots hostile to Israel broke out at Makhachkala airport.< /p>

A crowd of men had invaded its tarmac, in the midst of tensions across the world linked to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas, at the time of the landing of a plane from Israel.

Russia has been targeted on multiple occasions by attacks and attacks claimed by the jihadist organization Islamic State (IS), even if its influence remains limited in the country.

In March, an attack claimed by ISIS at the Crocus City Hall, a concert hall in the suburbs of Moscow, killed more than 140 people.

Last weekend, several ISIS members were killed after taking two prison officers hostage in a prison in the south of the Russia, according to authorities.

Russia faced an Islamist rebellion in the early 2000s in the Caucasus, a movement born from the first conflict against separatist Chechnya in 1994-1996. It had been defeated by Russian federal forces and in recent years, armed incidents there have been rare.

Nearly 4,500 Russians, particularly from the Caucasus, have fought alongside ISIS in Iraq and Syria, according to official figures.

All rights of reproduction and representation reserved. © (2024) Agence France-Presse

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116