ISIS is claiming responsibility for a horrific and deadly shooting on Sunday outside of a Russian church.
The violent event, which left five people dead, unfolded when a gunman described as being in his early 20s approached the church in Russia’s Dagestan region and started firing a hunting rifle, Fox News reported.
Parishioners were reportedly celebrating the end of the Maslenitsa festival, which signifies the start of Lent for Russian Orthodox Christians, when the gunman attacked.
The church’s priest, Father Pavel, later said that the man yelled “Allahu Akbar,” a phrase that means “God is great.”
“We had finished the Mass and were beginning to leave the church,” Father Pavel said. “A bearded man ran towards the church shouting, ‘Allahu akbar.'”
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Russian police killed the man after exchanging gunfire, but not before the assailant murdered five people and injured a number of others, including two police officers. The attacker has been identified as a local man, Russia Today reported.
A witness told the outlet that she believes God helped protect those inside, as the assailant reportedly tried to get into the church to wage the attack, but was unable, as the doors had been closed.
What followed was the targeting of parishioners as they exited the building.
“There were a lot of people there, moms with little children, elderly people,” she said. “I believe God saved us, not allowing the man to get inside the church.”
A video posted on social media shows at least one person running. Gunshots can also be heard ringing out:
The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack, calling the assailant — whom they referred to as “Khalil al-Dagestani” — a “soldier of the caliphate,” according to The New York Times.
It should be noted that Russia’s Dagestan region is near Chechnya and is a predominately Muslim area. CNN noted that Dagestan and Chechnya have both experienced Islamic and separatist violence of late.