Russia: ISIS terrorist kills 5 churchgoers

An ISIS terrorist shot and killed five people who were leaving a Sunday service at a Russian Orthodox church in the Dagestan city of Kizlyar. Another five were wounded.

By: AP and World Israel News Staff

The Islamic State (ISIS) terror group has claimed responsibility for a deadly attack on churchgoers in Russia’s Dagestan region.

Five people were killed and five wounded when a terrorist opened fire with a hunting rifle on people leaving a Sunday service at a Russian Orthodox church in the Dagestan city of Kizlyar.

The terrorist was shot and killed by security forces at the scene.

All those killed were women, the BBC reported. The wounded include a police officer and a national guardsman. Two are said to be in critical condition.

Authorities identified the terrorist as 22-year-old Khalil Khalilov, a local resident. His wife has been detained for questioning.

Police have not commented on the possible motive for the attack.

One of the dead victims was an award-winning doctor, Lyudmila Shcherbakova, who had more than 40 years’ experience working in Dagestan’s hospitals, Russia’s TASS news agency reported.

Russian RBK news outlet quoted an Orthodox Christian priest who recounted that the congregation had just finished mass and was beginning to leave the church when “a bearded man ran towards the church shouting ‘Allahu Akbar’ (God is greatest) and killed four people.”

A statement from the Islamic State (ISIS) terror group, posted Monday on an ISIS-affiliated website, claimed responsibility for the shooting, saying a Muslim fighter attacked “a Christian temple” in Kizlyar. The authenticity of the statement could not be confirmed, but the website is regularly used by ISIS for posting statements.

Russia’s Islamic terrorism challenges

Dagestan, a predominantly Muslim province on the western shore of the Caspian Sea, has become the epicenter of an Islamic insurgency following two separatist wars in neighboring Chechnya. Despite government efforts to clamp down on the insurgency, shootouts and bombings are routine.

In December 2016, Russian security forces dealt a strong blow to ISIS’ presence in the country by killing Rustam Aselderov, the “emir” of ISIS in the region.

Russia’s security services have long been warning about pending Islamic terror attacks in the country, especially in the wake of the country’s war on the ISIS in Syria. The Russians have thwarted several planned attacks as well as killing Islamic terrorists operating inside the country.