Five women were shot dead and two were seriously wounded in an apparent radical Islamic attack on an Orthodox church in Russia’s North Caucasus region of Dagestan on Sunday. The Muslim shooter (below) was killed by security forces. The Islamic State (ISIS) has claimed credit.
FOX News Authorities said the Muslim gunman, 22-year-old Khalil Khalilov, opened fire on people leaving the church after they finished celebrating the end of the Russian festival of Maslenitsa, a holiday which marks the start of Lent for Russian Orthodox Christians. Khalilov was shot dead by police while trying to leave the scene, and his wife has been detained for questioning.
Islamic State claimed responsibility for the deadly attack, and put out a statement (below).
In a statement posted on an ISIS-affiliated website, the group said a Muslim fighter attacked a “a Christian temple” in Kizlyar, located in a predominantly Muslim region of Dagestan situated between Chechnya and the Caspian Sea. The authenticity of the statement couldn’t be confirmed, but the website is regularly used by ISIS to post statements.
“Investigators are looking at various theories of the incident, trying to find out the attacker’s motives,” Russian Investigative Committee Spokeswoman Svetlana Petrenko told the TASS news agency. “A terror attack is among possible theories.”
Two women are seriously injured, and they are in intensive care,” Kazanfar Kurbanov, the chief doctor at the Dagestani emergency medicine center, told TASS. All of the victims had gunshot wounds, and one of the injured women had her arm cut off Sunday, the news agency reported.
Dagestan is a predominantly Muslim region situated between Chechnya and the Caspian Sea. Following two separatist wars in neighboring Chechnya, an Islamic insurgency spread to Dagestan.
The region was also home to the Boston Marathon bomber Tsarnaev brothers begore they immigrated to America, and where Tamerlan Tsarnaev, visited in January 2012, when he was under surveillance by Russian officials.