May 19 - Gunmen Attack Church in Russia’s Chechnya Region, Killing 3


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May 19 - Gunmen Attack Church in Russia’s Chechnya Region, k*lling 3


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Four gunmen stormed a church in Russia’s predominantly Muslim region of Chechnya on Saturday, k*lling at least one churchgoer and two police officers, according to authorities.

All the attackers were k*lled in an exchange of gunfire with the police at the Archangel Michael Church in the center of Grozny, the capital, according to the Investigative Committee of Russia, an internal security agency.

The gunmen initially took hostages, the leader of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov, said, adding that the a*sailants were armed with knives, hatchets and homemade explosives as well.

It was not immediately clear whether there was any link between the attackers and extremist groups. But Chechnya has experienced attacks by Islamist extremists before, including those who pledged allegiance to the Islamic State.

Women and men from majority Muslim areas of Russia, including Chechnya, have traveled to Syria and Iraq to f*ght alongside the Islamic State there, and dozens have begun to return as the group has lost most of its territory.

The restive region of Chechnya was the site of two separatist wars in the 1990s. Following those conflicts, Mr. Kadyrov, with the backing of the Russian government, has cracked down on dissent. Human rights groups have accused his forces of abuses including torture, kidnapping and murder.

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Grozny once had a substantial ethnic Russian, Christian population but most of them fled during the wars. The church that was attacked Saturday is in the center of the city and was at the heart of some of the battles of the 1990s.

Mr. Kadyrov condemned Saturday’s a*sault and said he immediately went to the church and was with the police as they responded. He vowed to crush anyone who attempted attacks in his region.

“I once again very seriously declare that you can try to commit any actions aimed at undermining the security of the residents of Grozny and other settlements,” he said. “But anyone who makes the first step along this path will be immediately destroyed.” He made the statement via the Telegram messaging app, where he regularly posts information after being kicked off both Instagram and Facebook after he was added to a United States sanctions list.


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Attacks on churches in Chechnya are rare. There are not many churches in the region, and they are protected by Mr. Kadyrov’s forces.

The attack comes as Russia prepares to host the World Cup next month. No games will be played in Grozny, but it will serve as the training ground for the Egyptian team. Russian news outlets reported in April that the Federal Security Bureau — the country’s main security agency — said that it had thwarted a series of terrorist attacks planned for the World Cup in the Moscow area.

At least one of the suspected gunmen had been identified as a resident of a suburb of Grozny, Mr. Kadyrov said, but provided no further details on any of the attackers.

A 2014 attack in central Grozny k*lled at least 20, and a deadly 2017 attack on the Russian military, also in Grozny, was linked to the Islamic State.

Islamist extremists have struck other parts of Russia as well in recent years, and have previously targeted churches. In the neighboring region of Dagestan earlier this year, a man opened fire on worshipers at an Orthodox church, k*lling at least five people. The Islamic State claimed responsibility.

Twin attacks in 2013 in Volgograd k*lled at least 34 people. A 2017 attack in St. Petersburg left at least 11 people dead and was later claimed by Al Qaeda. Both cities will be hosting games in this summer’s World cup.

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 https://www.nytimes.com/2 .. ck-grozny.html

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