At Least 19 Dead In Gunmen Attack On Russian Churches, Synagogue

Image not from story (Photo by ALEXANDER NEMENOV/AFP via Getty Images)

Hailey Gomez General Assignment Reporter
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Two churches and a synagogue in south Russia were attacked by gunmen Sunday afternoon, leaving at least 15 police officers, one priest and three other civilians dead, CNN reported, citing governor Sergei Melikov’s video message Monday.

The attacks in the city of Derbent in Russia’s southernmost republic of Dagestan were reportedly coordinated hits, according to CNN. While it is unclear if the hits on the three religious locations occurred at the same time, video footage posted online appears to show horrifying moments from the incident. (RELATED: Video Shows Putin, Kim Jong Un Cruising Around In Special Limo)

Priests at the scene of the attack reportedly locked themselves in the church, but one other priest had his throat slit and the church’s pistol-armed security guard was shot, Dagestan Public Monitoring Commission Chairman Shamil Khadulaev confirmed to CNN.

“According to the information I received, Father Nikolay was killed in the church in Derbent, they slit his throat. He was 66 years old and very ill,” Khadulaev told the outlet.

At the same city’s synagogue, images circulated apparently showing the building in flames. Gunfire from a reported shootout with Russian police could be heard in other video clips posted online.

A third location was reportedly hit by gunmen in the city of Makhachkala, two hours north of Derbent, where a police traffic post came under fire, according to CNN. Twelve officers were injured at the time of the report; however, it is unclear in which location officers were hit, the outlet reported, citing local authorities.

Russia’s National Anti-Terrorist Committee described the violence as terrorist acts, which took place in a predominantly Muslim region where insurgency frequently occurred, according to CNN.

Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday were specified as days of mourning for the region, the outlet reported.

The Israeli foreign ministry weighed in on the incident, claiming a second synagogue was hit in Makhachkala and calling the incidents a “a combined attack,” CNN reported.

“The synagogue in Derbent was set on fire and burned to the ground. Local guards were killed. The synagogue in Makhachkala was attacked by gunfire, there are no further details,” a statement read, according to CNN.

“As far as is known, there were no worshipers in the synagogues at the time of the attack, and there are no known casualties from the Jewish community.”

At least five gunmen were reportedly claimed to have been killed during the incident by authorities, but their identities have not yet been confirmed, according to the outlet.