Home News Russia’s Dagestan attack: What you need to know

Russia’s Dagestan attack: What you need to know


two Bloody attack Clashes in Dagestan in southern Russia on Sunday raised concerns about extremist violence at home as the Kremlin pours vast resources and manpower into its massive war in Ukraine.

Gunmen massacred at least 20 people and set fire to the house of worship. Videos quickly circulated on social media showing gunmen standing in the street and opening fire, including at passing vehicles. Although little is known about the attacks, they touched a nerve in a region long strained by separatism and ethnic tensions.

Here’s what we know:

Groups of gunmen launched what appeared to be coordinated attacks on synagogues and Orthodox churches in two cities, Makhachkala, the capital of Dagestan, and Derbent, more than 70 miles apart.

Although Russian officials have called the violence an act of terrorism, they have not attributed the attacks to any specific individual or group. No group has claimed responsibility and the motive for the attacks remains unclear.

Russia’s Investigative Committee launches Terrorism Investigations.

Before a deadly attack on a concert hall outside Moscow in March, U.S. intelligence agencies warned of an impending attack by an Islamic State affiliate, and they quickly pinned that group’s responsibility after the attack.

But on Monday, U.S. officials said they still had not yet assessed the perpetrators of the Dagestan shooting.

Dagestan is one of the more than 20 republics of the Russian Federation, located near the Caucasus Mountains on the west bank of the Caspian Sea. To the west of Dagestan are Chechnya and Georgia, another Russian republic, and to the south is Azerbaijan.

The region, one of Russia’s poorest and known for its dramatic mountainous landscapes, has long been a crossroads of migration, conquest and empire, with Russia seizing the region from Persia in a series of conflicts in the 18th and 19th centuries.

The country’s predominantly Muslim population of about 3 million is ethnically and linguistically diverse, with some speaking Turkic or Iranian languages ​​in addition to Russian.

The Caucasus region has been in turmoil since the collapse of the Soviet Union, plagued by war, separatist movements and extremism.

The bloodiest conflict was a war between 1994 and 2009 in Chechnya, another Muslim-majority region, which at times spilled over into Dagestan and killed tens of thousands of people.

Russia’s brutal crackdown on Chechen separatists and the devastation wreaked on Syria by Russian troops fighting on behalf of President Bashar Assad in the Syrian civil war have radicalized some Muslims in the region.

In the mid-2010s, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria took advantage of undercurrents of extremist sympathies to recruit heavily in the Caucasus. Dagestan Province, Islamic Republic of Claims have emerged on social media of Russian-speaking imams threatening Russia and declaring that the caliphate will eventually expand to the Caucasus, where many people travel to the Middle East to participate in what they see as jihad.

A mob, including men holding Palestinian flags, gathers after anti-Israel protests in Dagestan in October 2023 Rushing into the plane A plane from Tel Aviv landed at Makhachkala Airport, injuring 20 people. analyze Rumors about Israeli refugees resettling in Dagestan had been circulating on local Telegram channels in the weeks before the riots.

In the 1990s, Russian-backed separatists fought a war against Georgia, once part of the Soviet Union, setting the stage for Russia’s invasion in 2008. Two other former Soviet republics, Azerbaijan and Armenia, have also fought repeated wars over territory.

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia has seen a number of major terrorist attacks, many of which have been attributed to Islamic extremists.

A series of apartment building bombings in 1999 provided the justification for the Second Chechen War, with Russia blaming Caucasian Muslims for the bombings. Some Russian dissidents and others claim that the Russian government’s own agents The bombing was carried out to provide a pretext for war.

In 2002, Chechen gunmen took over a Moscow theater and took about 750 hostages. More than 100 prisoners died Security forces stormed the theater and killed the hostage-taker. Two years later, Chechen militants carried out a similar attack on a school in Beslan in the Caucasus, taking more than 1,000 people captive. More than 300 people died when authorities stormed the building.

People pledging allegiance to groups including Islamic State and al-Qaeda have claimed responsibility for a number of deadly bombings and shootings over the past two decades.

The worst attack so far took place in March when four gunmen 145 people died The shooting took place at the Krokus City Hall concert hall in the Moscow suburb of Moscow. US intelligence officials said the attack was carried out by the Islamic State Khorasan Province (also known as ISIS-K), which is active in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and the group has claimed responsibility.

The Russian government has ignored U.S. warnings of an impending attack, blaming Ukraine and the West without offering any supporting evidence. Four men from the former Soviet republic of Tajikistan in Central Asia were arrested and charged.

Experts say Sunday’s attack in Dagestan could be indicative of a trend.

Jerome Dreyfon, senior jihad and modern conflict analyst at the International Crisis Group, said there were “indications that the conflict could expand further,” especially as the Kremlin’s intelligence resources are concentrated overseas.

Julian E. Barnes and Anton Troyanovsky Contributed reporting.

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