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More deaths after series of attacks in Dagestan

After several attacks in the Russian republic of Dagestan in the North Caucasus, the situation appears to be under control again. At least 20 people died in attacks on churches, a synagogue and the police, and five attackers were shot dead.

More than 15 police officers were killed yesterday in a series of attacks in the Russian republic of Dagestan in the North Caucasus. This was announced by Governor Sergei Melikov in a video message. Initially, only six police officers were reported to have been killed. There were also dead civilians. However, Melikov did not give the exact number. Among them is an Orthodox priest.

On Sunday, according to authorities, unknown assailants opened fire on an Orthodox church and a synagogue in the city of Derbent. According to state media, both places of worship caught fire. Almost at the same time, there was an armed attack on another church and a police station in the regional capital of Makhachkala, more than 100 kilometers from Derbent.

Exchange of fire with Police units

The national anti-terror committee classified the attacks as acts of terrorism. The authorities immediately launched a large-scale manhunt and blocked the exits from Makhachkala. They later managed to block the terrorists, they said. According to official figures, five attackers were killed, although the media had previously reported six. However, there were also other victims on the police side in the exchange of fire.

Governor Melikov himself spoke of six “bandits” who had been “liquidated”. The contradictory information cannot yet be clarified. It was also initially unclear how many attackers were involved in the attacks.

Senior official under interrogation

The authorities have now lifted the state of alert that had been imposed in the predominantly Islamic republic because of the series of attacks. “Because the threat to the life and limb of citizens has been eliminated, the decision was made to end the anti-terrorist operation in accordance with the law 'On Combating Terrorism',” said a statement from the National Anti-Terrorism Committee.

There is no information yet about the exact background to the attacks. According to media reports, three of the attackers are the sons and nephews of a high-ranking official in the region. The man was already interrogated during the night. Governor Melikov said in a video address that the situation in the region was under control. He promised that the investigation would continue until all of the extremists' sleeper cells had been uncovered.

Governor sees backers abroad

Some politicians in Dagestan and Moscow have already laid the blame on Ukraine, which was attacked by Russia. Governor Melikov stated that the attacks could have been planned from abroad, but gave no evidence. He referred to the deployment of the Russian military in Ukraine, with which he apparently wanted to link the attacks. Three days of mourning were declared in Dagestan because of the series of attacks.

In March, gunmen opened fire on a crowd at a concert hall in a Moscow suburb, killing 145 people. An offshoot of the Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attack. Nevertheless, Russian officials tried to link Ukraine to the attack, but without providing any evidence. Kiev has vehemently denied any involvement.

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