On the evening of 23 June 2024, assailants armed with automatic firearms conducted apparent coordinated attacks in Russia’s southernmost Dagestan region, located on the Caspian Sea. In Makhachkala, the regional capital, gunmen opened fire on a police traffic post, police vehicles and a synagogue. Meanwhile in Derbent, Dagestan’s second largest city, attackers set fire to a synagogue and an Orthodox church. The gunmen also shot and killed security guards stationed at the synagogue and exchanged fire with law enforcement officers before barricading themselves in a building. The attacks in both cities killed at least 20 people, including 15 police officers, and injured 46 others. After the attacks, authorities asked residents in the cities of Makhachkala and Derbent to remain indoors amid the gunbattle between police officers and the assailants. At least five attackers were reported to have died during the shootout. Three days of mourning has been declared in Dagestan following the attacks.

Analyst Comment: While Russian officials indicated that an international terrorist organization is responsible for the attacks, they did not specify the group’s name. Russian media reported that two of the assailants were the sons of the head of Dagestan’s Sergokala district, which suggests that the coordinated assaults were most likely carried out by a local outfit that could be affiliated with a transnational terrorist group. Additionally, the Islamic State Khorasan Province has reportedly recognized associated members from North Caucasus for carrying out the attack. The identities of the attackers remain under investigation. The Russian Investigative Committee has begun a probe into the events. Dagestan is a restive region, with other instances of Islamist extremist activity in recent years. In April 2024, police officers in Dagestan arrested suspects connected to the 22 March terrorist attack on Moscow’s city hall, which killed more than 140 people.