20 killed, including police officers, as attacks launched on synagogues, Orthodox churches in southern Russia: Officials

The death toll from apparent coordinated terrorist attacks Sunday in southern Russia climbed to 20 on Monday, including 15 law enforcement officers, when militant terrorists wielding automatic weapons opened fire on synagogues and Orthodox churches in two cities miles apart in the Dagestan region, according to Russian officials.

At least 46 people were injured in the two attacks, said Tatyana Belyaeva, the minister of health for the Republic of Dagestan.

"Unfortunately, 20 people have died, including law enforcement officers and civilians," the report said, citing Belyaeva.

Belyaeva said seven of the victims wounded in the attacks are in serious condition.

The attacks unfolded Sunday afternoon in Derbent and Makhachkala, Caspian Sea coastal cities 75 miles apart.

Around 6 p.m. local time, multiple gunmen unleashed a barrage of automatic weapons on a synagogue and a Russian Orthodox church in Derbent, according to Russian officials.

A Volkswagen Polo is believed to have been used by the suspects in the Derbent attack and was seen by witnesses fleeing the scene, Russian officials said.

A second attack occurred in Makhachkala, the capital of the Republic of Dagestan and the region's largest city, where terrorists targeted two more synagogues and two Russian Orthodox churches, Russian officials said.

PHOTO: A view shows a shooting scene on the street of Makhachkala in southern Russia, June 23, 2024, in this still image obtained from a video.  (Obtained By Reuters/via Reuters)
PHOTO: A view shows a shooting scene on the street of Makhachkala in southern Russia, June 23, 2024, in this still image obtained from a video. (Obtained By Reuters/via Reuters)

A Russian Orthodox priest was killed in the Makhachkala attacks and one of the Orthodox churches there was set ablaze, officials in the region said.

Following the attacks on the houses of worship, a long gun battle erupted Sunday night between police and the suspects in Makhachkala, according to officials.

At least six militants were killed in the fighting, Russian officials said.

MORE: ISIS claims responsibility in deadly attack on Russia's Crocus City Hall

In Makhachkala, gunmen also opened fire on traffic police on one street and a police car was set on fire on another street, the TASS state-owned news agency reported.

Sergei Melikov, a Russian leader of the Dagestan region, said in a statement that an operational headquarters had been established amid the attacks.

"This evening in Derbent and Makhachkala, unknown persons made attempts to destabilize the social situation. Dagestan police officers stood in their way. According to preliminary information, there are victims among them," Melikov said in his statement.

A period of mourning has been declared for Monday and Tuesday in the Dagestan region.

The attacks follow a killing rampage in April at a concert at Moscow's Crocus City Hall that left more than 140 people, including children, dead. ISIS terrorists claimed responsibility for the attack.

20 killed, including police officers, as attacks launched on synagogues, Orthodox churches in southern Russia: Officials originally appeared on abcnews.go.com

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