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Michael-Archangel Orthodox Church in the center of Grozny - Flickr /  Vladimir Varfolomeev flickr.com/photos/varfolomeev/
Photo: Flickr / Vladimir Varfolomeev (cc)

On Saturday, May 19th, four gunmen stormed the Archangel Michael Orthodox Church in Grozny, Chechnya. Before they were shot dead by police, they had killed one church member and two security officers. Two other officers and another church member were also injured.

According to the pastor, churchgoers heard shouts of "Allahu Akbar" outside the church and rushed to bolt the doors just as the attackers tried to break in. It appears that the attack started as a hostage attempt. Along with guns, the four perpetrators also carried axes and Molotov cocktails. The self-proclaimed Islamic State (ISIS) terrorist group has claimed responsibility.

Chechnya, which is located in southern Russia, has been a hotbed for Islamist activity -- often attacking police, government officials and moderate Muslims. Militants have been attempting to establish a Muslim emirate in the region for years. The population is predominantly Muslim after most of the Christian population fled during the separatist wars of the 1990s.

Please remember the friends and families of those tragically killed in this attack. Pray for the healing of those injured and peace for members of the church who witnessed the violence. May the governing authorities act justly toward those responsible.