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Several Killed as Orthodox Church and Synagogue Attacked in Russia’s Dagestan

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Unknown assailants have attacked two Orthodox churches and a synagogue in the majority Muslim republic of Dagestan, state media reported Sunday, killing at least two police officers, one priest and one security guard.

Attackers opened fire at the synagogue and church in the city of Derbent with automatic rifles at around 6:00 p.m. local time before driving away from the scene in a white Volkswagen Polo car, officials reported.

The synagogue caught fire shortly after the attack, according to videos published online. One policeman was killed and one other wounded in a shootout at the synagogue, regional police said.

Father Nikolai, a 66-year-old priest at the Orthodox church in Derbent, was killed in a knife attack, said Shamil Khadulaev, the chairman of Dagestan’s Public Monitoring Commission. He said priests have locked themselves inside the church and are waiting for help.

A security guard at the Orthodox church in Makhachkala was also killed, Khadulaev said.

Separately, a group of unknown assailants attacked a traffic police post in the regional capital of Makhachkala. At least one police officer was killed and six others injured in an ongoing armed standoff that followed the attack, the region’s Interior Ministry said.

The regional Interior Ministry said two militants have been killed without specifying which city they were killed in.

Russia’s National Anti-Terrorism Committee has introduced a counterterrorism regime in Dagestan, with video posted online showing that roads leading in and out of Derbent have been closed.

Russia’s Investigative Committee said it has opened a criminal terrorism probe over the armed attacks in Derbent and Makhachkala.

Residents of Makhachkala have been asked to remain in their homes.