Five women killed in Dagestan church shooting claimed by Daesh

Five women were shot dead in an apparent radical militant attack on an Orthodox church in the North Caucasus region of Dagestan, as Daesh claimed responsibility for the assault. (File Photo: AFP)
Updated 19 February 2018
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Five women killed in Dagestan church shooting claimed by Daesh

MOSCOW: Five women were shot dead in an apparent radical militant attack on an Orthodox church in the North Caucasus region of Dagestan on Sunday, as Daesh claimed responsibility for the assault.
An unidentified gunman fired at worshippers at the church in the town of Kizlyar in the mainly Muslim region, local press reports said.
The regional internal affairs ministry said in a statement that the assailant used a hunting rifle, and that four women were killed on the spot, while the attacker was “eliminated.”
A fifth woman died of her injuries in hospital, health ministry spokeswoman Zalina Mourtazalieva told TASS news agency.
Two Russian police officers were injured in the attack.
According to a local official the assailant was a local man in his early twenties, the Interfax news agency reported.
The Russian RBK daily quoted an Orthodox priest saying the attacker had opened fire on churchgoers following an afternoon service.
“We had finished the mass and were beginning to leave the church. A bearded man ran toward the church shouting ‘Allahu Akbar’ (’God is greatest’) and killed four people,” Father Pavel told RBK.
“He was carrying a rifle and a knife,” he added.
Daesh claimed responsibility for the attack.
“A soldier of Islam, Khalil Daghestani, attacked” a church in the town of Kizlyar in Dagestan,” Daesh said via the Telegram messaging app.
“He targeted them with his gun, killing five of them and wounding four others,” it added.
A spokesman for Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill strongly condemned the attack, branding it a “monstrous crime” aimed at “provoking a confrontation between Orthodox Christians and Muslims” in the North Caucasus.
Images published by the local press showed the body of a bearded man dressed in military fatigues who was identified as the assailant.
Next to his corpse lay two of his victims, covered in a white shroud.
Dagestan, bordering Chechnya, is one of the poorest and most unstable regions of Russia. Rebels from the region, which lies immediately east of Chechnya, are known to have traveled to Syria to join Daesh.
In 2015, Daesh declared it had established a “franchise” in the North Caucasus.
It has claimed a number of attacks on police in Dagestan in the last couple of years that have involved guns and explosives, as local security forces battle a simmering extremist insurgency.
Sunday’s shooting comes exactly one month before the March 18 presidential election that Vladimir Putin is almost guaranteed to win.


Trump fan to plead guilty to 2018 package bombs

Updated 34 min 20 sec ago
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Trump fan to plead guilty to 2018 package bombs

  • The package bombs’ intended recipients included billionaire philanthropist George Soros, former secretary of state Hillary Clinton, former president Barack Obama
  • Cesar Sayoc’s criminal record dates back to 1991

NEW YORK: A fan of US President Donald Trump who mailed parcel bombs to prominent Democratic figures last October was set to appear in court Thursday, where he was expected to plead guilty to some of the 30 charges against him.
Cesar Sayoc, 57, who was arrested in Florida on October 26 following a massive manhunt, was due in federal court in New York at 4:00 p.m.
Although it was not known which charges he would plead guilty to, all relate to the 16 package bombs he is accused of mailing from a Florida post office to several well-known people who oppose Trump, as well as the Manhattan offices of CNN. He previously pleaded not guilty to all counts.
The packages’ intended recipients included billionaire philanthropist George Soros, former secretary of state Hillary Clinton, former president Barack Obama, former vice president Joe Biden, actor Robert De Niro and several Democratic lawmakers, including 2020 presidential hopefuls Cory Booker and Kamala Harris.
None of the packages exploded or even reached their targets and authorities questioned the actual danger they posed.
But by targeting Democrats, Sayoc — who also goes by the alias Cesar Altieri and was identified by DNA recovered from the packages — helped contribute to heightened tensions during the US midterm election campaign season.
Sayoc’s partial guilty plea Thursday could help mitigate the severity of a sentence if he is convicted on all counts.
As his trial loomed, information from Sayoc’s past began to filter into the public sphere, fueling the debate about extremism in the age of Trump and social media — a debate that grew more urgent as 11 people were shot dead at a Pittsburgh synagogue later in October.
Estranged from his family and in financial distress, Sayoc lived in a white van plastered in stickers proclaiming his admiration for the US president.
His criminal record dates back to 1991, peppered with convictions for theft, fraud, violence and a threat to bomb his electric utility company.
A former strip club manager and an adept bodybuilder and martial arts practitioner, Sayoc discovered a passion for Trump just as his political star was rising.
His social media posts took a politically radical turn: he’s seen wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat, sharing pro-Trump images and posting articles from ultra-conservative and conspiracy-driven websites such as Infowars and Breitbart.
“He was very angry and angry at the world, at blacks, Jews, gays,” recalled Debra Gureghian, the general manager of a Florida pizzeria where Sayoc worked as a delivery driver for several months.
Lawyer Ron Lowy, who defended Sayoc in 2002 and remained close to his family, described him on NPR in October as someone whose “intellect is limited, and who is “like a little boy in a man’s body.”