On Sunday, February 18, a shooting at a church in the Dagestan Republic (south) left five dead and at least five others wounded. The sole assailant was shot and killed by security forces stationed nearby. Islamic State (IS) claimed responsibility for the attack, which took place during Maslenitsa - an eastern Orthodox Christian holiday that marks the last day before Lent.
Dagestan is located within Russia's North Caucasus region, which also includes the restive Muslim-majority regions of Ingushetia, Chechnya, and Kabardino-Balkaria. Islamist militants and criminal groups in the region have been known to target Russian military personnel, local officials, and moderate Muslims. Chechnya, in particular, has been the site of a decades-long conflict between Moscow and separatist and religious radical groups; a large number of people from Chechnya have reportedly joined IS.
Individuals in the North Caucasus are advised to report any suspicious objects or behavior to the relevant authorities. As a reminder, some Western governments advise against nonessential travel to parts of the North Caucasus region.