Shooting at Church in Russia Leaves Five Dead, Some Wounded

February 18, 2018 Updated: February 18, 2018

A shooting at a church in Russia has left at least five people dead on Sunday, according to reports.

A gunman opened fire outside a church in Kizlyar, located in Russia’s Dagestan region, according to Russian news agency TASS.

The suspect was shot and killed by police who were responding to the scene, Fox News reported. The gunman was identified as a local man who is in his 20s.

“People were leaving a church after an evening service when he opened gunfire at them,” an official said, Fox reported, citing local news outlets.

The gunman was seen on surveillance video walking to the scene with a gun. The identity of the suspect or his motive has not been released.

State-backed news outlet RT reported that people were at the church celebrating the Russian festival of Maslenitsa, which marks the beginning of Lent for Russian Orthodox Christians.

“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,” a witness told RT.

The death toll of the attack was bumped up from four to five. A woman died at a nearby hospital after she was rushed there, according to the Dagestani Health Ministry.

“According to preliminary data, the condition of the two other (patients) is critical,” it added.

The head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill, said he was “stunned” by the violence.

“The Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church considers this terrible crime, committed on the eve of the Great Lent, a provocation aimed at instigating confrontation between [the] Orthodox and Muslims, who have been coexisting peacefully for ages in the Caucasus,” his spokesman said, RT reported.

About 83 percent of the population of Dagestan adheres to Islam, according to a 2012 survey.

 

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