Local politician detained after 19 killed in Dagestan terror attacks — Novaya Gazeta Europe
NewsSociety

Local politician detained after 19 killed in Dagestan terror attacks

Russian security officers during the anti-terrorism operation in Derbent in the early hours of 24 June. Photo: EPA-EFE/National Anti-Terrorism Committee

Russian security officers during the anti-terrorism operation in Derbent in the early hours of 24 June. Photo: EPA-EFE/National Anti-Terrorism Committee

Dagestan is to observe three days of mourning after coordinated terror attacks on Sunday evening killed at least 15 police officers and four more civilians, the head of the North Caucasus republic, Sergey Melikov, announced in a video message on Monday.

Police “eliminated” six of the gunmen who opened fire on a synagogue and an Orthodox church in the city of Derbent and a police post in the republic’s capital Makhachkala, by early Monday morning, Melikov said.

At least 15 police officers were killed by the attackers as they “defended the peace and tranquility of Dagestan with weapons in hand”, adding that four civilians had also been killed in the shooting, Melikov said.

A counter-terrorist operation launched in the republic on Sunday was reportedly wound down on Monday morning once “threats to the life and health of citizens” had been dealt with, Russia’s National Anti-Terrorism Committee told state news agency RIA Novosti.

Local politician Magomed Omarov, the head of the Sergokalinsky district between Makhachkala and Derbent, was detained by police on Sunday evening amid reports that two of his sons and one of his nephews had been among the attackers. The Dagestani branch of Russia’s ruling United Russia party later announced that it had suspended Omarov for “actions discrediting” the party.

Vladimir Putin has yet to comment on the attack.

Melikov said that the authorities knew who was “behind the organisation of these terrorist attacks and what goal the organisers were hoping to achieve”. While not elaborating further on who may be responsible, he said that police would continue to pursue participants of “sleeper cells” linked to the attack, which he said had been at least partially organised “from abroad”.

Russian security officers during the anti-terrorism operation in Derbent in the early hours of 24 June. Photo: EPA-EFE/NATIONAL ANTITERRORISM COMMITTEE

Russian security officers during the anti-terrorism operation in Derbent in the early hours of 24 June. Photo: EPA-EFE/NATIONAL ANTITERRORISM COMMITTEE

State news agency TASS cited a source from Russia’s security services who said that the attackers were from an “international terrorist organisation” and that an investigation would identify their “handlers and organisers”.

Russian State Duma Deputy for Dagestan Abdulkhakim Gadzhiyev said he had “no doubt” that the attackers were “connected to Ukraine and NATO’s intelligence agencies” and that the attacks were an attempt to “destabilise the situation within our country from the inside” amid Russia’s “successes in the special military operation”.

Dmitry Rogozin, the Russian-installed Governor of the occupied Zaporizhzhia region in eastern Ukraine, contradicted Gadzhiyev, saying that Russia would experience “major problems” if it attributed every terrorist attack to “the schemes of Ukraine and NATO”.

Melikov’s office ordered that flags throughout Dagestan be flown at half-mast from Monday and that all entertainment events and programmes be cancelled to mark three days of mourning, adding that financial support would be offered to the victims’ families.

Reports of the attacks began emerging on Sunday evening, on the Russian Orthodox holiday of Pentecost, with footage circulated on Telegram showing gunmen exchanging fire with police at a traffic post in Makhachkala.

Simultaneously, attackers in Derbent, a city known for its ethnic diversity and which is home to a small but ancient Jewish community, opened fire on the Church of the Intercession of the Holy Virgin and the Kele-Numaz Synagogue, attacking both buildings with assault rifles before setting them on fire. When the attack began, priests and worshippers barricaded themselves inside the church and were later escorted from the building by police later on Sunday evening.

Among the civilians killed was an Orthodox priest who had served in Derbent’s Church of the Intercession of the Holy Virgin for over 40 years, Melikov said, while Telegram news channels reported that one of the attackers killed was a local mixed martial arts fighter named Gadzhimurad Kagirov.

pdfshareprint
Editor in chief — Kirill Martynov. Terms of use. Privacy policy.