Moscow: Five women were shot dead in an apparent Islamist attack on an Orthodox church in the North Caucasus region of Dagestan on Sunday, officials and local media said. According to local press reports an unidentified gunman fired at worshippers at an Orthodox church in the town of Kizlyar in the mainly Muslim region.
“An unknown man opened fire with hunting rifle in Kizlyar, fatally wounding five women,” the regional internal affairs ministry said in a statement. A Russian police officer and a local resident were injured in the attack. The attacker was “eliminated ” by police fire, the statement added.
According to a local official the assailant was a local man in his early twenties, the Interfax news agency reported. A local daily quoted an Orthodox priest saying the attacker had opened fire on churchgoers following an afternoon service. “We had finished the mass and were beginning to leave the church. A bearded man ran towards the church shouting ‘Allahu Akbar’ (‘God is greatest’) and killed five people,” Father Pavel told RBK.
“He was carrying a rifle and a knife,” he added. Dagestan, bordering Chechnya, is one of the poorest and most unstable regions of Russia and has struggled against an Islamist insurgency. It is often the scene of attacks, some claimed by the Islamic State jihadist group.