Moscow. Masked gunmen burst into a mosque in the troubled Russian Caucasus region of Dagestan, wounding eight, the regional interior ministry said Saturday amid reports that more people were hurt in an explosion.
“The number of wounded in the shooting at the mosque in the town of Khasavyurt has risen to eight,” the interior ministry said after two unidentified gunmen shot at worshippers in the Shiite mosque on Saturday evening as Muslims celebrated the end of Ramadan.
Three of the wounded suffered gunshot wounds to the chest and stomach, while others were shot in the arms and legs, the ministry said in a statement.
Citing local police, RIA Novosti news agency said more people were hurt in an explosion in the same mosque after the gun attack in the town to the west of the largely Muslim region.
“An explosion went off. Altogether there were two explosive devices. One went off, the other is being defused,” police told the agency.
Police confirmed to Interfax news agency that explosive experts were working in the mosque to defuse an explosive device but denied that anyone was wounded in an explosion.
“The explosive experts are continuing their work. So far the deactivation is not completed. We have no information on an explosion or people wounded during the deactivation work,” a police spokesman told the agency.
The gunmen brought an explosive device, a gas cylinder wired up to explosives, into the mosque before opening fire on worshippers with an automatic rifle and a pistol, Life News website reported late Saturday, citing a source in the regional interior ministry.
Around 70 worshippers were in the mosque at the time of the attack, listening to a sermon, Life News reported, adding that the attackers then escaped by car.
On Sunday, Russian Muslims hold mass celebrations for the Eid al-Fitr holiday, known as Uraz-Bairam in Russian, marking the end of the fasting month of Ramadan.
Dagestan experiences almost daily shootings and bombings that officials blame on local criminals and Islamists with links to Chechnya, where over the past 20 years the Kremlin has fought two wars.