Shooting at Unesco tourist site in Russia’s Dagestan

Rasul Temirbekov, a representative for the Dagestan branch of the Investigative Committee, said that a minimum of three people carried out the attack, adding that investigators believed Islamist extremists were behind it. Local news outlet Caucasian Knot cited an unidentified law enforcement official as saying the militants were suspected of being part of a local Islamist group that pledged loyalty to Isil over the summer. Those who carried out the attack were not identified, but the leader of the group was named as Abutdin Khanmagomedov. According to the law enforcement source, the group comprises just two to three people.

The head of the republic, Ramazan Abdulatipov, said the attack had been intended to ruin the new year’s holidays. Islamists in the North Caucasus have previously been united under a local Caucasus Emirate organisation, which is known for its new year attacks. Two suicide bombings carried out by the group in the city of Volgograd on December 29 and December 30 2013 killed at least 34 people. The group tried again in the Chechen capital of Grozny on December 4 last year, triggering a battle with the police after storming the city and taking over a printing house.

Fourteen policemen and one civilian were killed. Islamist jihadists in the region are now increasingly flocking to Isil, which in June declared it had established a franchise there. Syria’s al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra has called on jihadists from the Caucasus to stage attacks in Russia in response to Moscow’s bombing campaign in the country.


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