8 People Dead After Russia Church Shooting

(Cupventi.com) – In a tragic escalation of violence, multiple places of worship and a police post came under coordinated attack in Russia’s North Caucasus region of Dagestan on Sunday. Gunmen targeted two synagogues, two Orthodox churches, and a police facility in the cities of Derbent and Makhachkala, leaving a trail of death and destruction in their wake.

The attacks, which claimed the lives of police officers and civilians while injuring several others, prompted swift and grave responses from both local and international authorities. The Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation launched a terrorism investigation in response to what it described as “armed attacks” in Derbent and Makhachkala. According to the committee’s statement on Telegram, the assaults resulted in casualties among law enforcement and the civilian population.

Reports from the ground detailed horrifying scenes: a 66-year-old priest found murdered with his throat slashed in an Orthodox church, synagogues set ablaze and riddled with gunfire, and ongoing shootouts between gunmen and police. The violence unfolded in Derbent, a city renowned for its ancient Jewish community, and in Makhachkala, the bustling capital of Dagestan.

Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed the attacks, expressing deep concern over the coordinated assault. “The synagogue in Derbent was set on fire and completely destroyed, with local guards losing their lives. In Makhachkala, gunfire targeted another synagogue, while churches in both cities were also attacked,” the ministry stated. Fortunately, there were no reported casualties among worshippers at the synagogues during the assaults.

Authorities struggled to contain the chaos as videos circulated online depicting buildings engulfed in flames and intense exchanges of gunfire. Sergei Melikov, the appointed head of Dagestan, condemned the attacks as attempts by “unknown persons” to destabilize the region’s social fabric, underscoring the severity and potential implications of the violence.

While no specific group has yet claimed responsibility for the attacks, concerns have arisen regarding the presence and activities of Islamist militants in the region. This comes amidst broader global anxieties about terrorism following recent events, including the ISIS-K attack on a concert hall in Moscow earlier in the year, which left a devastating toll on the city.

The attacks in Dagestan reverberate globally, prompting responses from leaders such as U.S. second gentleman Douglas Emhoff, who, on the same day, participated in a ceremony marking the rebuilding of Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue, a poignant reminder of the lasting impact of antisemitism and violence against places of worship.