At least 4 dead, 13 wounded in shooting attack on Russian synagogue, Orthodox church

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Unknown gunmen fired automatic weapons at a synagogue and Orthodox church in Dagestan, Russia at 6 PM on Sunday, local time, a Russian Interior Ministry official told TASS. 

Two police officers were reportedly killed alongside a security guard and priest in the attack and an additional 13 were wounded, according to Reuters. 

One of the officers was killed at the synagogue, according to RIA, while the other and 6 wounded were shot at a nearby traffic police post. It was also reported that a priest and security guard were victims of the attack, although it is unclear if this means that they were killed or wounded.

The attack was believed to be carried out by ISIS, according to N12 and Jewish community reports.

The gunmen, who fled the scene, were said to be driving a white Volkswagen Polo, with a 921 license plate. RIA reported that the identities of the shooters have now been established. Two of the attackers involved in a series of shootings in southern Russia’s Dagestan region on Sunday have been shot dead, Russian news agencies quoted the Interior Ministry as saying.

A fire later broke out at the synagogue, and emergency services are reportedly attending to the fire.

A general view of a synagogue in Derbent, November 2, 2023 (credit: REUTERS/Kazbek Basayev)

“At approximately 18:00 [Moscow time] in Derbent, unknown persons fired at a synagogue and a church with automatic weapons. According to preliminary information, one police officer was killed and one was wounded. The car in which the suspects fled was identified as a white Volkswagen Polo, license plate 921 The circumstances are being clarified. Information about the dead and wounded police officers is being clarified,” a ministry source told TASS.

“In Makhachkala, unknown persons fired at a traffic police post on Ermoshkin Street.  The ‘Interception’ plan was announced. The identities of the attackers are being established,” the regional Internal Affairs Ministry reported.

Fighting was later reported in the streets of Makhachkala.

Dagestan official Sergei Melikov, according to RIA, called the shooting an attempt to destabilize Russian society. He stressed an operational headquarters has been created, all necessary decisions will be made in the interest of the safety of local residents.

Israel’s foreign ministry confirmed that in Makhchakla, shooters fired on two synagogue guards inside of their cop car, and then entered the synagogue hall. At the time of the shooting, worshippers weren’t present. 

The ministry later added the clarification there was a “combined attack in two cities in the Dagestan region, 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; no further details are available. At the same time, churches were attacked in Makhachkala, and a priest was murdered in Derbent.

“As far as is known, there were no worshippers in the synagogues at the time of the attack, and there are no known casualties among the Jewish community.

“The Israeli embassy in Moscow is in contact with the heads of the Jewish community in the region. We will continue to update as more details become available.”

Sources in Dagestan Jewish community to The Jerusalem Post: “I spoke with the head of the Jewish community. It seems very serious…. It’s an attack against a synagogue, the police, and a church.

“They killed a guard and a policeman, and the synagogue is on fire. Firefighters are trying to extinguish it but haven’t succeeded yet. The riots are also against the police and the church. The terrorists have not been caught yet. Apparently, several cells at the same time. On the news, there’s different information every second. It seems to be a combined/rolling attack in several places simultaneously. On the streets, they shot at police officers; at least 5 killed.”

Jewish life in Dagestan

Dagestan made headlines in 2023 after a crowd stormed the local airport in what was described as an attempted pogrom against Jewish travelers landing from Israel. 

Russia has also been on high alert as ISIS have increased the number of attempted attacks on Russian soil. Russia said in April that it had successfully thwarted an attack on a Moscow synagogue.

Also in April, Moscow was victim to a deadly concert shooting which saw over 100 people killed by ISIS. 

This is a developing story.

Reuters contributed to this report.

Read More: At least 4 dead, 13 wounded in shooting attack on Russian synagogue, Orthodox church

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