Russian news agency reports 4 dead in church shooting

"At about 16:30 [13:30GMT], an unknown man opened fire using a hunting rifle", the regional internal affairs ministry statement said.

Five women have been killed in a shooting at a Christian church in Russia's volatile republic of Dagestan. The shooter was shot dead. Two officers were injured in the gunfight, they said.

A woman died at a nearby hospital after she was rushed there, according to the Dagestani Health Ministry.

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attack that occurred in the province's Kizlyar town, BBC reported.

The Russian RBK daily quoted an Orthodox priest saying the attacker had opened fire on churchgoers following an afternoon service. "I believe God saved us, not allowing the man to get inside the church", the woman told the news outlet.

The death toll of the attack was bumped up from four to five.

According to Interfax, the shooter has been identified as a local man in his early 20s.

Dagestan is a predominantly Muslim region between Chechnya and the Caspian Sea.

Some extremists from the region, which lies immediately east of Chechnya, are known to have traveled to Syria to join Daesh.

But two separatist wars in Chechnya have spread to Dagestan.

Russian President Vladimir Putin fired, three months ago, head of Dagestan Ramazan Abdulatipov and appointed Vladimir Vasilyev.

  • Jon Douglas