Churches and synagogues are attacked, a priest's throat is cut / Who is hiding behind the attack with 19 victims in Russia

churches and synagogues are attacked, a priest who is hiding behind the attack with 19 victims in Russia has his throat cut
churches and synagogues are attacked, a priest who is hiding behind the attack with 19 victims in Russia has his throat cut

There are at least 19 victims - 15 policemen and 4 civilians - from the simultaneous attack carried out against a synagogue in the city of Derbent and against the police in Makhachkala, the capital of Dagestan in the Caucasus (Russia).

A group of gunmen opened fire on a synagogue, a church and, soon after, on the police. After the attack, the terrorists set fire to two places of worship. Sergei Melikov, the governor of the Dagestan region, spoke on Telegram about a "tragic day for Dagestan and the whole country."

In a video published on Telegram, three men dressed in black can be seen aiming with automatic weapons, while in another an attacker shouts "Allahu Akbar" while framing a burning synagogue.

Who are responsible?

The attackers opened fire on the Church of the Intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary and a synagogue in Derbent, the oldest and southernmost city in Russia, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and home to an ancient Jewish community. They butchered 66-year-old Orthodox priest Father Nikolai Kotelnikov.

Who carried out the attacks? There were no pretensions. Some Russian officials have blamed Ukraine and NATO. According to analysts at ISW, the Institute for the Study of War, it is likely that the attack was carried out by the Islamic State (ISIS) militia. ISW cites rising tensions between Moscow and Muslim minorities in the Caucasus, which are increasing recruitment by extremist groups.

Dagestan is a Russian region with a Muslim majority, located in the south of the federation and bordering Chechnya, but also Georgia and Azerbaijan. In the 2000s, it was the scene of an Islamist insurgency emanating from neighboring Chechnya, with Russian security forces cracking down on extremists in the region. Attacks have become rarer in recent years, and in 2017 Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB) said it had defeated the insurgency in the region.

Double attack in Dagestan, Russia's reaction

The Russian reaction was not long in coming. The Armed Forces announced that they had completed an anti-terrorist operation in Dagestan, killing several people. "After neutralizing threats to the life and health of citizens, it was decided to conclude the anti-terror operation in Dagestan," the National Anti-Terrorism Committee said in a statement, according to Russian news agencies.

In addition, "six armed men were killed - the governor added, explaining that further investigations will be carried out until all the members of the sleeper cells are identified".

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