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Russia: Dagestan Mourns Death Of Priest And Police Officers Killed In Attack By Gunmen

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Russia’s Dagestan commenced three days of mourning on Monday after gunmen carried out attacks on synagogues and churches in two cities in the North Caucasus region on Sunday, resulting in multiple fatalities, including police officers, an Orthodox priest, and several civilians.

“This is a day of tragedy for Dagestan and the whole country,” Sergei Melikov, the governor of Dagestan, stated in a video released early Monday on the Telegram messaging app.

The exact number of casualties from the simultaneous attacks in Makhachkala and Derbent remains unclear. Melikov reported that more than 15 police officers “fell victim” to what he described as a “terrorist attack,” but did not specify how many were killed or injured. Russia’s Interfax agency reported that at least 15 police officers were killed.

These attacks occurred three months after the Islamic State claimed responsibility for an assault on a concert hall near Moscow that left 145 people dead, marking Russia’s deadliest such attack in years.

There has been no immediate claim of responsibility for the attacks in the North Caucasus region. “We understand who is behind the organization of the terrorist attacks and what goal they pursued,” Melikov said, without providing further details. He added that the search for the gunmen will continue until all are identified.

Russia’s state media reported that two sons of the head of the central Dagestan’s Sergokala district were among the attackers and had been detained by investigators.

Melikov noted that several civilians were among the dead, including an Orthodox priest who had served in Derbent for over 40 years. The priest, Nikolai Kotelnikov, was “brutally murdered,” according to a spokesman for the Russian Orthodox Church on Telegram.

Six of the gunmen were killed during the incidents, Melikov said. Russian state news agencies, citing the National Anti-Terrorist Committee, reported that five gunmen had been killed.

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