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Several killed in attacks launched on synagogue, Orthodox church in southern Russia: Officials

Arkadii Budnitskii/Anadolu via Getty Images

(MOSCOW) — An apparent coordinated attack Sunday in southern Russia has left at least nine people dead, including seven law enforcement officers, when gunmen wielding automatic weapons opened fire on a synagogue and an Orthodox church in two cities miles apart in the Dagestan region, according to the region’s Ministry of Internal Affairs.

At least 25 people were injured in the two attacks, Russian officials said.

The attack in Derbent, a city on the Caspian Sea, unfolded around 6 p.m. local time, when multiple gunmen unleashed a barrage of automatic weapons on a synagogue and an Orthodox church and set fire to both houses of worship, according to the Russian National Anti-Terrorism Committee.

A second attack occurred about 75 miles away in Makhchkala, also on the Caspian Sea, Russian officials said.

An ongoing gun battle between police and the suspects was occurring Sunday night in Makhachkala, according to 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.

In Makhachkala, gunmen 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.

Melikov asked residents of Dagestan to remain calm.

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