Terrorism & Insurgency

Islamic State-claimed attack on church in Russia’s Dagestan indicates broadening target set and motivating radicalised individuals

21 February 2018


On 18 February 2018, in Kizlyar, Dagestan, an individual armed with a hunting rifle opened fire on worshippers exiting a Russian Orthodox Church on the last day of Maslenitsa, a religious festival. Five women were killed and five other people – including a police officer and a national guardsman – were wounded.

The attacker – later identified as 22-year-old Khalil Khalilov – reportedly attempted to gain access to the church but failed to do so and was subsequently shot dead by security forces while attempting to escape. In a statement – assessed to be credible by IHS Markit – released later that day via the Islamic State’s Amaq News Agency, Wilayat al-Qawqaz claimed responsibility for the attack, identifying the gunman as “Khalil ad-Dagestani”.

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