Terror in Russia: Gunmen Open Fire on Synagogues and Churches, Multiple Casualties

AP Photo/Dmitry Serebryakov

Gunmen opened fire on churches and synagogues in Russia's North Caucasus region of Dagestan Sunday, and an unknown number of civilians and police officers were wounded or killed. Authorities have opened a terrorism investigation:

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The Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation opened a terrorism investigation in response to the "armed attacks in Derbent and Makhachkala, as a result of which police officers and civilians were killed and injured," according to the agency’s Telegram page.  

Shamil Khadulaev, Chairman of the Public Monitoring Commission of Dagestan, said that a 66-year-old priest was found with his throat slashed at an Orthodox church, the state-sponsored TASS news agency reported.  

At least two police officers were also killed, news agencies quoted the Russian Interior Ministry as saying, according to Reuters. At least six people were wounded. 

This social media post claims that six law enforcement officers have been killed, although that has not been confirmed. Warning: Graphic footage

Israel issued an official response:

Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs released a statement, confirming a "combined attack in two cities in Dagestan province, Makhachkala and Derbent."

"The synagogue in Derbent was set on fire and burned to the ground. Local guards were killed. The synagogue in Makhachkala was attacked by gunfire, there are no further details," the statement said. "At the same time, churches were attacked in Makhachkala and a priest was murdered in Derbent." 

"As far as is known, there were no worshipers in the synagogues at the time of the attack and there are no known casualties from among the Jewish community," it added. "The Israeli embassy in Moscow is in contact with the leaders of the Jewish community in the district."

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The attacks are reportedly occurring in multiple locations:

Gunfire was also reportedly exchanged in an Orthodox Church in the town which is a UNESCO heritage site. Another shootout was reported at a police post in Makhachkala, about 75 miles to the north along the Caspian Sea coast and the main city in Dagestan, a mainly Muslim region in southern Russia, according to Reuters. 

Sergei Melikov, Vladimir Putin's appointed head of Dagestan, said "unknown persons" in Derbent and Makhachkala attempted to "destabilize the social situation," Russian news agency RIA reported. 

The attacks were not immediately attributed to having been carried out by a specific group.

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This situation is developing, and RedState will update you as events warrant.

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