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6/24/2024 Russia (International Christian Concern) — An unknown group believed to be Islamic extremists attacked several churches, synagogues, and a police traffic stop on Sunday evening in Dagestan, Russia. The attack resulted in the death of at least 15 police officers and four civilians, including a 66-year-old Orthodox priest.  

The attack occurred during the Orthodox festival of Pentecost. Russian authorities stated that the various buildings were set on fire using Molotov cocktails. 

This attack comes after the ISIS-K attack on a concert venue on March 22 in Moscow, which claimed the lives of 145 people.  

Home to more than 30 unique ethnic groups, Dagestan is a predominantly Muslim community with a small but ancient Jewish population. Dagestan has a history of extremism, with Russian forces fighting an Islamist insurgency in the early 2000s.  

According to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedoms (USCIRF) 2022 Report, 71% of Russia’s population is Orthodox Christian, 5% is Muslim, and 15% claim no religious beliefs. Religious minorities face severe persecution from the government and other entities, including torture, prolonged detention, seizure of property, physical abuse, and several other atrocities. For these reasons, the U.S. government declared Russia as a Country of Particular Concern in 2021, 2022, and 2023. This designation is reserved for countries that commit the most egregious crimes based on religion.  

As tensions rise with the global conflicts in Israel, Gaza, Ukraine, and Russia, religious minorities face scrutiny and a lack of security in Russia. Although several news organizations, including the Russian media agency TASS, reported that international terrorists conducted the most recent attack, the head of the Republic of Dagestan, Sergei Melikov, implied that Ukraine was involved in the attack and that Dagestan is now directly involved in Russia war in Ukraine. 

Dagestan authorities announced a three-day mourning period for the victims of the attack. 

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