Priest, Officers Killed in Attacks on Churches, Synagogue

Russia opens terrorism investigation after what appears to be a coordinated operation in Dagestan
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 23, 2024 5:00 PM CDT
Updated Jun 24, 2024 2:00 AM CDT
Priest, Officers Killed in Attacks on Churches, Synagogue
This photo taken from video released by Golos Dagestana shows smoke rising after an attack Sunday in Derbent, republic of Dagestan, Russia.   (Golos Dagestana via AP)

Gunmen opened fire on Sunday in a synagogue, at least two churches, and at a police post in the southern republic of Dagestan, Russia reported, killing a priest, several civilians, and more than 15 police officers. The attacks appeared to be coordinated and took place in the cities of Derbent and Makhachkala, CNN reports. Two of the attackers were killed, Russian state-owned news agency RIA Novosti said. "Father Nikolay was killed in the church in Derbent, they slit his throat," a regional official said. The priest was 66 and had served the Russian Orthodox congregation for 40 years.

Other priests locked themselves in the church while awaiting rescue, the official said, per the New York Times. News media showed video of the synagogue in Derbent in flames, and police said the synagogue and church had been "burned down." The officers were shot at a traffic post in Makhachkala, the capital of Dagestan, about the same time as the other attacks, per the AP. Russian authorities said they've begun a terrorism investigation. Dagestan is predominantly Muslim and also has a significant Jewish population. Ethnic and religious tensions there have intensified since the Israel-Hamas war began, per the Times. This story has been updated with the latest death toll. (More Dagestan stories.)

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