ISIS takes credit for killing 3 people in Chechnya church attack

Law enforcement officers walk outside an Orthodox church after the attack of militants in Grozny, Russia May 19, 2018. | Reuters/Said Tsarnayev

The Islamic State has claimed to be behind the attack that killed three people in an Orthodox church in Chechnya last Saturday.

According to The New York Times, two policemen and one churchgoer were killed after four militants attacked the Archangel Michael Church in the center of Chechnya's capital city of Grozny.

The Investigative Committee of Russia reported that all four of the gunmen were killed during the clash with the police.

ISIS announced through the Amaq news agency that it was responsible for the attack, but they did not provide any supporting evidence. "Islamic State fighters executed an attack on 'Michael' Church yesterday in Chechnya's capital, Grozny," the agency said, as reported by Reuters.

Ramzan Kadyrov, the leader of Chechnya, stated that the militants had initially taken hostages. Apart from being armed with guns, the attackers also carried knives, hatchets and homemade explosives.

The Chechnyan leader denounced the attack and vowed to wipe out anyone who makes an attempt to attack the region.

"I once again very seriously declare that you can try to commit any actions aimed at undermining the security of the residents of Grozny and other settlements. But anyone who makes the first step along this path will be immediately destroyed," Kadyrov said via the Telegram messaging application, according to The New York Times.

It has been reported that some Russian Muslims, including those hailing from Chechnya, have traveled to Iraq and Syria to join ISIS, and many of them have been returning to Russia as the militant group had been losing ground in the region.

Kadyrov noted that at least one of the gunmen was identified as a resident of Grozny. The leader had not provided further details on the other attacks.

Grozny has been home to a significant number of ethnic Russian, Christian population, but many have left the city during the separatist wars in the 1990s. The church attacked by armed gunmen on Saturday was reportedly the site of some of the battles during the separatist wars.

The attack came as Russia has been designated as the host of the soccer World Cup next month. Grozny will not be hosting any of the games, but the city has been chosen as the training ground for the Egyptian team, according to The New York Times.

ISIS has been suspected of committing the attack on the Russian military in Grozny in 2017. The group also claimed responsibility for an attack that killed five in an Orthodox church in the neighboring region of Dagestan earlier this year.