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Armed militants in Dagestan kill priest and police in attacks on churches, synagogue and police post

MOSCOW (news agencies) — Armed militants attacked two Orthodox churches, a synagogue and a traffic police post in Russia’s southern republic of Dagestan, killing a priest, a church security guard and at least six police officers, Russian state news agency Tass said Sunday.

Russia’s National Anti-Terrorism Committee said in a statement that a Russian Orthodox priest and police officers were killed in the “terrorist” attacks.

Dagestan’s Ministry of Internal Affairs said a group of armed men fired at a synagogue and a church in the city of Derbent, located on the Caspian Sea. The attackers fled and a search for them was underway, the statement from the ministry said. Tass reported that the church and synagogue were set on fire in the attack.

Almost simultaneously, reports appeared about an attack on a traffic police post in the capital of the largely Muslim region, Makhachkala. According to RIA Novosti, six policemen were killed and 12 more were injured.

Shamil Khadulaev, deputy chairman of the public monitoring commission of Dagestan, cited by RIA Novosti, said a priest in Derbent and a church security guard in Makhachkala were killed.

Nine people were reported killed in the attacks, including seven policemen, while 25 were injured, according to the Muftiate of Dagestan, a state-supported spiritual administrative body.

Four militants were “eliminated” in Makhachkala, Dagestan’s Ministry of Internal Affairs said.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attacks, but some officials in Dagestan blamed Ukraine and NATO.

“There is no doubt that these terrorist attacks are in one way or another connected with the intelligence services of Ukraine and NATO countries,” Dagestan lawmaker Abdulkhakim Gadzhiyev wrote on Telegram.

Ukrainian officials did not comment immediately on the attacks.

“What happened looks like a vile provocation and an attempt to cause discord between confessions,” President Ramzan Kadyrov of neighboring Chechnya said.

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