Church Shooting Leaves At Least 5 Dead After Gunman Opens Fire

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At least five people were killed and several others were injured after a gunman opened fire with a hunting rifle on people leaving a church service in Russia’s Dagestan region on Sunday, according to several Russian media outlets.

The group of people were leaving a church ceremony dedicated to the end of the Russian folk festival of Maslenitsa, which marks the start of Lent for Russian Orthodox Christians, RT reports.

The shooting took place outside a church in Kizlyar, a town of about 50,000 people on the border with Chechnya. The Russian news agency TASS cited Svetlana Petrenko of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation as the source for the number of people killed and wounded.

The gunman was shot dead by police responding to the scene, a law enforcement source told the Interfax news agency. According to Interfax, the gunman has been identified as a local man in his early 20s.

“People were leaving a church after an evening service when he opened gunfire at them,” Shuvalov told TASS. Two police officers and a woman were among the wounded, according to Shuvalov. One woman later died at a hospital, a law enforcement source told RIA Novosti.

A witness posted a video of the shooting on Twitter, which captured the moment shots were being fired.

Rough translation- “URGENTLY! The moment of shooting in Kizlyar: eyewitnesses managed to shoot an attack on the video”

Russian news outlets also posted photos on social media of the alleged weapon used in the attack, in addition to a body in front of the church covered by a tarp, FOX News reports.

An eyewitness to the shooting, Oksana, told RT it happened right in front of a Christian church. The gunman targeted people as they were leaving, but luckily many of the churchgoers managed to take cover inside the building, giving more time for the security guards to respond to the attack.

“There were a lot of people there, moms with little children, elderly people. I believe God saved us, not allowing the man to get inside the church,” the woman said. She added the gunman was killed as he was attempting to flee the scene.

The death toll of the attack has risen from four to five people after a woman, who was among those delivered to the hospital, “died on the operation table,” the Dagestani Health Ministry told Interfax. “According to preliminary data, the condition of the two other (patients) is critical,” it added.

The health ministry said five people were wounded in the shooting and hospitalized. The interior ministry announced two of whom were security personnel who responded to the shooting and gunned down the attacker.

Authorities have not yet disclosed what motivated the shooting, but the shooting took place in the region where Moscow has led two wars against separatists and radical religious groups since the 1991 Soviet collapse. The region has also seen a large number of people join Islamic State terror group, according to Reuters.

Dagestan is a predominantly Muslim region between Chechnya and the Caspian Sea. Following two separatist wars in neighboring Chechnya, an Islamist insurgency spread to Dagestan.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to everyone involved in this senseless act of evil.



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