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Mixed martial arts fighter, relatives of regional official among Dagestan attackers, Russian authorities say

A mixed martial arts fighter and relatives of a regional official were among the gunmen who carried out attacks on places of worship in Russia’s Dagestan on Sunday, according to local authorities.

Russian state news agency TASS, quoting law enforcement agencies, reported Monday that five of the attackers who targeted the cities of Derbent and Makhachkala on Sunday had been identified.

Gunmen opened fire at multiple places of worship and a police traffic stop in the two cities in the Muslim-majority republic on Sunday, killing at least 15 police officers and at least four civilians, including an Orthodox priest, according to authorities.

Some of the attackers were from the Sergokalinsky district, which lies between the two cities, and were related to the head of the district, TASS reported.

Former mixed martial arts fighter Gadzhimurad Kagirov – a cousin of the head of the Sergokalinsky district Magomed Omarov – was among those who attacked sites in Derbent, according to TASS.

A son and a nephew of Omarov were also among the attackers, TASS reported.

The head of Dagestan, Sergei Melikov, told reporters Monday that Omarov had since been relieved from his post and expelled from one of the main parties in the Russian parliament, the United Russia party.

Melikov didn’t specify how many of Omarov’s relatives were allegedly involved in the attacks.

Melikov said he is not able to comment further on the degree of Omarov’s guilt and his possible participation in the attacks. “This is the task of the investigative authorities. But if his participation is confirmed, then there will be full responsibility,” he said.

However, he went on to say that regardless of whether he had direct involvement, Omarov, as a parent, bears responsibility for the actions of his children.

“Why did he, as the head of a municipality, as a member of the United Russia party, as a high-level leader, who has been serving for several years as the head of a municipality, whose duties are to take care of the entire population of the region, did not pay attention, missed the children [the children’s actions and possible red flags], and missed them so much that they became murderers,” he said.

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