Media reports say the death toll from a series of brazen attacks on churches and a synagogue in Russia's Dagestan Republic rose to 20 yesterday after gunmen went on the rampage in coordinated attacks in two of Dagestan’s most important cities.

The death toll from the attacks in Dagestan has risen to 20 people, Russia’s Investigative Committee said on Monday.

"According to preliminary data, 15 law enforcement officers were killed, as well as four civilians, including an Orthodox priest," the Investigative Committee said about Sunday's attack, adding that five perpetrators had also been “eliminated.”

Gunmen with assault rifles reportedly burst into an Orthodox church and a synagogue in the city of Derbent Sunday evening, setting fire to an icon at the church and killing a 66-year-old Orthodox priest, Nikolai Kotelnikov.

The Russian Orthodox Church said its archpriest Nikolai Kotelnikov had been “brutally killed” in Derbent.

Videos posted on social media and shown on Russian TV showed the skies of Derbent, which is home to an ancient Jewish community in Dagestan, filled with smoke and flames after the synagogue was set on fire.

Places of worship were also attacked in Dagestan’s capital, Makhachkala, where a church and the traffic police post also came under attack.

At least 12 people were also injured in the attacks, which took place in Derbent and Makhachkala on the evening of June 23, the festival of Pentecost for the Russian Orthodox Church.

Earlier, Russian media agencies had reported that the anti-terror operation launched after gunmen attacked Orthodox churches and a synagogue in Dagestan had concluded.

Photo / NAC via AP/ picture alliance

"Following the neutralization of the threats to the lives and health of citizens, it was decided to end the anti-terrorist operation in Dagestan from 0515 GMT," said the National Antiterrorism Committee, according to Russian news agencies.