Dead in Church Shooting in Dagestan, Russia

Becca Schofield

A bearded man clad in a black vest and camouflage trousers was seen crossing the street before opening fire on two female churchgoers as they left a service in Kizlyar in the Republic of Dagestan on Sunday afternoon.

Five more people were injured before the gunman was shot and killed at the scene by local police.

The gunman was shot and killed, according to local reports.

The injured include two members of local security services and two civilians, also women, the Interfax news agency said. Authorities are questioning the man's wife about the shooting.

A group that calls itself the local wing of the Islamic State extremist group has claimed responsibility. The gunman, who was carrying a hunting rifle, bullets and a knife, was killed.

"We had finished the mass and were beginning to leave the church", Russian news organisation RBK Daily quoted a priest as saying.

Dagestan, located in Russia's North Caucasus near Chechnya and Georgia, is an ethnically diverse and largely Muslim federal republic.

It was not immediately clear what motivated the shooting.

Following two separatist wars in neighbouring Chechnya, an Islamist insurgency spread to Dagestan.

Russian President Vladimir Putin fired, three months ago, head of Dagestan Ramazan Abdulatipov and appointed Vladimir Vasilyev.

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