News World Five killed as gunman opens fire on Russian churchgoers
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Five killed as gunman opens fire on Russian churchgoers

Russian church shooting
Islamic States claimed responsibility after the gunman targeted churchgoers in the Muslim-majority province of Dagestan. Photo: Getty
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A man in the southern Russian province of Dagestan has opened fire on a crowd of churchgoers killing five people and injuring at least five others.

The attack occurred in the village of Kizlyar in the Muslim-majority province near the border with Chechnya on Sunday local time, Russian news agencies report, citing the local health ministry.

The gunman was identified as a 22-year-old local resident Khalil Khalilov, the TASS news agency said, citing the investigative committee.

He was shot and killed by security services who were on duty nearby, TASS said, adding that a hunting rifle, bullets and a knife were discovered on his body.

Islamic State claimed responsibility for the shooting, its news agency Amaq reported, but did not provide immediate evidence for the claim.

Russian news outlet RBK Daily quoted an Orthodox priest as saying the attack took place immediately following the afternoon service.

“We had finished the mass and were beginning to leave the church. A bearded man ran towards the church shouting ‘Allahua Akbar’ [God is greatest] and killed four people,” the priest was quoted as saying.

“He was carrying a rifle and a knife,” he said.

Moscow has led two wars against separatists and radical religious groups in nearby Chechnya since the 1991 Soviet collapse, which has seen a large number of people join Islamic State.

Russian news agencies said the attack occurred as churchgoers celebrated Maslenitsa, a Christian holiday marking the last day before Lent according to the eastern Orthodox calendar.

Initial reports suggested all five victims were women, TASS said, citing the local branch of the interior ministry.

The injured include two members of local security services and two civilians, also women, Interfax news agency said.

– AAP