Intelligence Brief: Violent Attacks in Makhachkala and Derbent in Dagestan

Dagestan map
The map of Dagestan shows the location of the cities of Derbent and Makhachkala (Credits: Peter Fitzgerald, OpenStreetMap, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

Kavkaz Files ISSN 2975-0474 Volume 24 Issue 4
SpecialEurasia OSINT Unit

Incident Summary

On June 23rd, 2024, violent attacks targeted law enforcement and religious sites in Derbent and Makhachkala, Dagestan. Law enforcement agencies reported that the terrorist attacks killed six police officers and wounded 23 others.

The recent violent attacks in the major cities of the Republic of Dagestan in the North Caucasus highlight the substantial terrorist risk in the region and, more broadly, in the Russian Federation.

Attack Details

Gunmen attacked two cities in Russia’s North Caucasus region of Dagestan, targeting a synagogue, two Orthodox churches, and a police post. These assaults resulted in the deaths of at least six police officers and a priest, according to officials.

In Derbent, known for its Jewish community within a predominantly Muslim region, assailants attacked a synagogue. Russian sources also reported that the attackers also fired on two nearby Orthodox churches, killing a police officer and a priest.

Footage from Derbent showed gunmen in a gunfight with police. Officials confirmed the offenders had set the synagogue on fire, and video footage showed flames engulfing the UNESCO heritage site.

Simultaneously, in Makhachkala, Dagestan’s capital, another group of gunmen opened fire on police. Authorities reported at least one police officer killed and six others injured. Russian media footage from Makhachkala showed intense gunfire and a burning police vehicle. Security forces subsequently eliminated the militants involved in the Makhachkala attack, confirming the deaths of two terrorists and the detention of another two.

The authorities have launched criminal cases regarding the terrorist acts and declared a counter-terrorist operation regime in the republic. The identities of the eliminated militants are being established.

Background and Context

Dagestan has experienced terrorist activities despite extensive security measures. Recent events reflect a growing concern over Islamist terrorist threats, which have included attacks in other regions of Russia. Notably, the Islamic State Wilayat Khorasan (ISKP), claimed responsibility for a mass shooting at the Crocus City Hall in Moscow in March 2024, resulting in 139 deaths.

The North Caucasian republic has also experienced antisemitic incidents, including a mob storming the airport in Makhachkala last year, targeting Jewish passengers from Israel. The escalation in both terrorist and antisemitic activities highlights the volatile security situation in Dagestan.

On June 19th, 2024, the National Anti-Terrorism Committee (NAC) held a meeting in Dagestan to discuss enhancing anti-terrorist protection measures. Deputy Director of the FSB of Russia and Deputy Chairman of the NAC, Igor Sirotkin, chaired the meeting. The session focused on increasing the effectiveness of security measures at transport facilities, hotels, and other high-traffic areas. Sirotkin emphasised Dagestan’s growing popularity as a tourist destination, with 1.7 million tourists visiting in 2023 and an expected increase in 2024.

Analysis and Implications

The recent attacks underscore a significant challenge for Dagestan’s security apparatus. The simultaneous targeting of law enforcement and religious sites shows a high level of coordination and planning among the militants. These events suggest a potential distraction or resource allocation issue within Russia’s extensive security agencies, possibly because of the ongoing conflict in Ukraine and internal suppression of anti-war dissent.

Russian authorities should enhance intelligence-sharing mechanisms, increase security measures at vulnerable sites, and address the underlying issues contributing to radicalisation in the region since the Kremlin wants to confirm the government’ ability to control the country’s territory and maintain stability and security.+.

In summary, the attacks in Dagestan highlight the persistent and growing threat of terrorism or violent attacks in the region. Comprehensive and adaptive security strategies are essential to counter this threat effectively and ensure the safety of both law enforcement personnel and civilians.

*Last update: Sunday, June 23rd, 2024 – Time: 08.20 pm

For further information, reports, and risk assessment about Dagestan and the security situation in the Russian Federation, feel free to contact us at

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