Europe

Five killed in attack on church in Russia

A gunman has reportedly opened fire on people leaving a church in Russia's Muslim-majority Dagestan region, killing five people, before he was shot dead.

A man in Russia's southern province of Dagestan has shot into a crowd leaving a church, killing five people and injuring at least five others, Russian news agencies report, citing the local health ministry.

The attack occurred in the village of Kizlyar in the Muslim-majority republic of Dagestan on Sunday, agencies said.

The assailant was identified as a 22-year-old local man, 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 person.

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

The small republic in the Caucasus mountains borders Chechnya, where Moscow has led two wars against separatists and radical religious groups since the 1991 Soviet collapse and 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, the Interfax news agency said.

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