At least two people have been seriously injured after more than 500 protestors stormed an airport in Dagestan in the southernmost tip of Russia on Sunday evening, Russian officials and local media have reported.
Chaotic scenes shared on social media showed protestors storming through the terminal at Makhachkala Uytash Airport and across the airfield towards parked aircraft, some with passengers still onboard.
The protestors had apparently been drawn to the airport after rumours that a plane was due to land in Makhachkala from Tel Aviv, Israel. Many of the protestors chanted ‘Allahu Akbar’ (God is Greater) as they allegedly went on the hunt for Israelis and Jews.
Dagestan is located in the Caucasus region with a Muslim-majority population of around 3.1 million people. Although it is officially called the Republic of Dagestan, the territory has officially been under Russian rule on and off since 1813.
The regularly scheduled Red Wings Airlines flight from Tel Aviv landed at Makhachkala Airport at around 7:15 pm on Sunday and was quickly surrounded by the protestors who had stormed the airfield.
In an attempt to take back control of the airport, Russian special forces landed military helicopters on the runway to drive back protestors, firing rubber bullets and potentially live ammunition.
Russia’s TASS news agency said the airport has now been shut until November 6, although the reason for the extended closure was not immediately released.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.