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Priest, 15 policemen, 4 civilians killed in Russia deadly attacks

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Gunmen opened fire on places of worship in two cities of Russia’s southernmost Dagestan province on Sunday, killing at least 15 police operatives and four civilians, including an Orthodox priest, in what appeared to be a coordinated attack.

Sergey Melikov, head of the Dagestan Republic, said at least six “militants” were also killed during the attacks on churches, synagogues and police posts in the cities of Derbent and the regional capital Makhachkala, which are about 120 kilometers (75 miles) apart, CNN reports.

Russia’s National Anti-Terrorist Committee described the attacks in the predominantly Muslim region with a history of armed militancy as terrorist acts.

Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday have been declared days of mourning in the region.

Though, there was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attacks in the volatile North Caucasus region, according to the region’s interior ministry.

Investigative Committee said it had opened criminal investigations over “acts of terror” in Dagestan, which neighbours Chechnya and is one of the poorest areas of Russia.

“This evening in the cities of Derbent and Makhachkala armed attacks were carried out on two Orthodox churches, a synagogue and a police checkpoint,” the National Antiterrorism Committee said in a statement to the state-run RIA Novosti news agency.

“As a result of the terrorist attacks, according to preliminary information, a priest from the Russian Orthodox Church and police officers were killed.”

Also, authorities are working to identify all individuals involved in the attacks and ensure they face legal consequences.

The Russian Orthodox Church said its archpriest Nikolai Kotelnikov had been “brutally killed” in Derbent

Meanwhile, the Israeli foreign ministry described these incidents as a “combined attack” on the synagogues.

They reported that the Derbent synagogue was completely razed down, resulting in the deaths of local guards. The synagogue in Makhachkala was attacked with gunfire, though no further details were provided.

The ministry noted that there were no known casualties among the Jewish community as no worshipers were present at the time.

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