In a truly tragic turn of events, five people are dead, and several more are wounded in Russia’s region of Dagestan after a gunman opened fire on people celebrating Maslenitsa, or “pancake week” festival in the city of Kizlyar. The gunman is unidentified at the present moment.
The Maslenitsa festival is related to the closing of the last week before Orthodox Christian Great Lent begins on Monday. The people who were attacked were leaving the ceremony when this incident took place.
In this video posted by locals on YouTube, what sounds like gunshots can be heard clearly:
Russia Today reported that an eyewitness named Oksana said this happened right in front of the Church building. The gunman targeted the people they came out of church, but fortunately, many of the parishioners took cover safely inside the Church, giving more time for the security guards to respond to the situation. Oksana said further:
There were a lot of people there, moms with little children, elderly people. I believe God saved us, not allowing the man to get inside the church.”
Four of the people died directly as the result of the shooting with the fifth passing away on the operating table in a hospital, according to the Dagestani Health Ministry in a report to Interfax. Five people were reported wounded, including two who were responders to the attack. They gunned down and killed the attacker, who as yet remains unnamed, but who was said to be a local resident in his early twenties.
This harrowing CCTV footage shows the attacker as he entered the church grounds, with one churchgoer barely escaping becoming a victim.
Patriarch Kirill, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, was reportedly “stunned” by the news of the attack and, of course, has demanded the most thorough investigation of this incident. Priest Alexandr Volkov posted on Telegram this statement:
The Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church considers this terrible crime, committed on the eve of the Great Lent, a provocation aimed at instigating confrontation between Orthodox [Christians] and Muslims, who have been coexisting peacefully for ages in the Caucasus…”
Dagestan’s Muslim authorities echoed Patriarch Kirill’s sentiments, calling the shooting a “tragedy”, saying that it condemns all manifestations of violence. “We express our most sincere condolences to the relatives of those who were killed or injured,” the Muftiyat (Spiritual Authority) said in a statement.
We at RussiaFeed also mourn those lost and offer our condolences and prayers to everyone who suffered from this tragedy.