Counterterrorist operation in Dagestan has ended

The anti-terrorist operation launched in the Russian republic of Dagestan after attacks on Orthodox churches and a synagogue has ended, the Russian Anti-Terrorist Committee said. Official figures put the death toll at at least 19 - 15 policemen and four civilians.

The attacks were carried out on the religious holiday of an Orthodox church, Pentecost.

"After neutralizing threats to the lives and health of citizens, a decision was made to suspend the anti-terrorist operation in Dagestan as of 05:15 GMT," the National Anti-Terrorist Committee said, according to Russian news agencies.

The attacks were carried out in the Dagestani capital Makhachkala and in nearby Derbent, AFP reported.

"More than 15 policemen fell victim to the terrorist act," Dagestan regional leader Sergei Melikov said in a video posted on Telegram, adding that they were "protecting civilians at the cost of their lives."

Several civilians were also killed, he said.

It was initially reported that the dead included eight policemen and a priest.

Earlier, the National Counter-Terrorism Committee said the attacks targeted "two Orthodox churches, a synagogue and a police checkpoint."

The Russian Orthodox Church reported that Protopriest Nikolai Kotelnikov was "brutally murdered" in Derbent. He was 66 years old.

"The gunmen who carried out the attacks in Makhachkala and Derbent were supporters of an international terrorist organisation," Russian state media said. | BGNES