Gunman shouting 'Allahu akbar' kills five in Russian church

Five women were killed after an attacker had opened fire on churchgoers following an afternoon service. "A bearded man ran toward the church shouting "Allahu Akbar" [God is great] and killed the people".

The gunman was shot dead by police.

Christians are a small minority in Dagestan, which is ethnically diverse and over 80 per cent Muslim, according to a 2012 census. He was later identified as 22-year-old Khalil Khalilov, a resident of Dagestan. Two police officers and a woman were among the wounded, according to Shuvalov.

Russian state news agency Tass spoke to a law enforcement source who said that "the unknown person opened fire on people celebrating Maslenitsa".

A woman died at a nearby hospital after she was rushed there, according to the Dagestani Health Ministry. The gunman, who was carrying a hunting rifle, bullets and a knife, was killed.

"I believe God saved us, not allowing the man to get inside the church".

The death toll of the attack was bumped up from four to five.

Dagestan, bordering Chechnya, is one of the poorest and most unstable regions of Russian Federation and has struggled against an Islamist insurgency. Following two separatist wars in neighboring Chechnya, an Islamist insurgency spread to Dagestan. In 2015, the Islamic State declared it had established a "franchise" in the North Caucasus.

  • Joey Payne