The number of victims of attacks on churches and synagogues in Dagestan is rising, officials say

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“We know who is behind these terrorist acts,” Sergei Melikov, Dagestan’s top official, said in a speech to its residents. He drew a comparison between the victims of the assault and Russian soldiers fighting in Ukraine, saying they were facing the same enemy.

“We must understand that the war is coming to our home,” Melikov added.

Peskov, the Kremlin spokesman, in his daily press conference on Monday appeared to draw a link between the violence in Dagestan and Ukraine’s separate attack on Sunday on occupied Crimea.

Local authorities declared a three-day period of national mourning in Dagestan, a multi-religious and ethnically diverse region, and said families of victims would receive special compensation.

Dagestan’s roughly 3.2 million residents are divided among dozens of ethnic groups. The largest groups are predominantly Muslim, but the region is also home to a significant Christian minority, as well as a small Jewish community, one of Russia’s oldest.

Dagestan experienced a period of intense violence in the early 2000s, a result of the anti-Russian insurgency in the neighboring region of Chechnya and local mafia wars. The specter of that period, when deadly attacks on law enforcement officers were an almost daily occurrence in Dagestan, led the Kremlin to reassure the country that Sunday’s attack was an isolated tragedy.

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