Attack on Orthodox churches and synagogues in Dagestan

Country: Russia

Date of incident: June 23, 2024


On June 23, militant gunmen attacked two churches and two synagogues in Russia’s North Caucasus republic Debrent. While numbers vary with sources, at least 25 people have been killed, including 4 civilians, 19 police officers and one priest, Father Nikolai Kotelnikov, and at least 46 people have been injured. The Church of Intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, an Orthodox Church in Derbent, was also set on fire. It was the Pentecost Sunday for the Russian Orthodox Church. The Islamic terrorists allegedly screamed “Allahu Akbar”. These attacks against Christians and Jews happened in the Muslim-predominant Dagestan region of South Russia, bordering Georgia and Azerbaijan.

Next to the synagogues and churches, a police station has also been attacked in the same region on the same day.

Some sources claim that the second Orthodox church was also attacked on the same day in the capital city of the region, while other sources claim that there were about 40 hostages locked up in the other Orthodox church.

Based on preliminary investigation by the authorities, the attack is said to be a terrorist attack. About 5-6 militants were killed, the rest fled. 

According to CNN, the wife of the priest who was killed said her husband had been shot, contradicting earlier reports that his throat had been cut. “He (the attacker) walked in, shot him in the head and left,” Valentina Kotelnikova said, according to a video published by the Russian online media outlet Mash on Monday. Dagestan Public Monitoring Commission Chairman Shamil Khadulaev had earlier said that: “According to the information I received, Father Nikolai was killed in a church in Derbent and his throat was cut. He was 66 years old and very ill. [Other] priests have locked themselves in the church, waiting for help."

Sergei Melikov, a Russian leader of the Dagestan region, said: “This is a day of tragedy day for Dagestan and the whole country. This evening in Derbent and Makhachkala, unknown persons made attempts to destabilize the social situation. Dagestan police officers stood in their way… We know who is behind the terrorist attacks and what their goal is. Panic and fear, that is what these people are counting on in the first instance. But they won’t get that from Dagestanis. We must understand that war comes to our homes too. We felt it, but today we face it.”

The immediate statement from the National Anti-terrorism Committee published on Sunday night said that in the “cities of Derbent and Makhachkala armed attacks were carried out on two Orthodox churches, a synagogue and a police checkpoint. As a result of the terrorist attacks, according to preliminary information, a priest from the Russian Orthodox Church and police officers were killed.”

President Ramzan Kadyrov of neighbouring Chechnya said that “what happened looks like a vile provocation and an attempt to cause discord between confessions.” 

Sources:  CNN, Al Jazeera, The Washington Post, AP news, News Orf, Der Standard, Heute, Kurier, BBC, The Guardian, NPR, Tages Schau, Global News, Politico, France 24, NBC News, The Wall Street Journal, CBC, NDTV World, Spiegel Ausland, The New York Times, JNS, Sky News, Channel STV, Kronen Zeitung, Reuters, Dawn, De Gooi en Eemlander, TG Com 24, Il Post, Il Fatto Quotidiano, Dagen, Aftonbladet, GHN, Larazon, La Vanguardia, Infobae, Clarin, Domradio, Frankfurter Allgemeine, rp.pl, vesti.rs, Objektiv, Srbija Danas, Meduza, rbc.ru, Die PresseNoah News, abc news, Euro News, Bild, Zeit Online, Blick, Nederlands Dagbland, Israel Hayom, nyheder, L'Observatoire de la Christianophobie, Catholic Herald, La Croix International, La 7, Linkiesta, Vatican News, NZZ, Arise News, Idea, kath.ch, VOA News, DW, La Stampa, Rai News, Yahoo News, TF1 Info, Vida Nueva Digital, Ara, Goteborgs-Posten, msk1.ru, Segodnya, Human Rights Watch, Archons, Church Times, fr.de, kavkazr.com, rbc.ru

Videos: CNN, AP News, Der StandardBBC, The Guardian, Tages Schau, Global News, France 24, The Wall Street Journal, CBC, NDTV World, The New York Times, Sky News, Aftonbladet, Larazon25, Infobae, Clarin

Image: Noah News