Deadly Attacks on Churches and Synagogue in Dagestan, Russia

Farrukh Saif

June 24, 2024

Deadly Attacks on Church and Synagogue In Dagestan

A series of coordinated attacks on two Orthodox churches and synagogues in Russia’s North Caucasus republic of Dagestan has left at least a dozen people dead and over 25 injured.

The attack, which occurred on Sunday, June 23, 2024, targeted Orthodox churches, synagogues, and a police post in the cities of Derbent and Makhachkala.

Among the victims was 66-year-old Orthodox priest Nikolai Kotelnikov, who was beheaded in the church in the Church of the Intercession of the Virgin Mary in Derbent. Seven police officers also lost their lives in the attacks. The synagogue in Derbent was set ablaze, though it was reportedly empty at the time.

Suspects Apprehended and Neutralized:

Russian authorities have launched a “counterterrorist operation” in response to the attacks. The National Anti-Terrorism Committee of Russia has described the incidents as “terrorist” acts. Six suspects were neutralized at a traffic police post in Makhachkala, while another pair was apprehended at a nearby beach. According to Russia’s state media, both arrested were the sons of the head of central Dagestan’s Sergokala district and had been detained by investigators.

Officials claim that Russia is, as usual, ‘‘that the culprits were linked to an international terrorist group and used foreign weaponry. However, the exact identities and affiliations of the attackers remain unconfirmed. Some Dagestani officials have suggested a potential connection to Ukrainian and NATO intelligence services.’’

However, these claims are unverified and have been met with caution by Russian senators.

Historical Context of Extremist Activities in Dagestan:

The attacks have reignited concerns about extremist activities in the region. Dagestan, a predominantly Muslim area, has a history of Islamist insurgency and has previously been a site of Islamic State terror modules. The region has faced challenges with extremists targeting religious sites, as evidenced by a 2018 church shooting in Kizlyar that claimed five lives.

This latest incident follows a of terrorist activities in Russia, including the tragic assault on a Moscow concert venue earlier this year that resulted in 137 deaths. The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for various attacks in Russia, though no group has yet claimed the Dagestan attacks.

As investigations continue, authorities work to identify the attackers and maintain public calm. The attack has shocked the local Christian and Jewish communities and raised questions about security measures in the region.

Farrukh Saif

Farrukh H. Saif, a courageous Christian human rights activist, established the Farrukh Saif Foundation in 2009 to confront religious discrimination, blasphemy laws, and bonded slavery in Pakistan. His dedication to liberating bonded laborers from brick kilns and advocating for blasphemy victims and asylum seekers has garnered international acclaim. Despite encountering threats and fatwas, his impactful work persists in supporting marginalized communities. In 2018, the foundation merged with The Emergency Committee to Save the Persecuted and Enslaved, enhancing its global outreach.

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