11 people detained as death toll rises to 137 in Moscow concert hall attack | CBC News

The latest:

  • Gunmen kill at least 137 people at concert hall on western edge of Moscow.
  • Four of 11 people detained were directly involved in the attack, say Russian officials.
  • Ukraine denies involvement after Putin suggests suspects were heading to Ukraine.
  • Islamic State group’s Afghanistan branch claims responsibility.
  • Attack carried out at Crocus City Hall music venue, attached to a shopping mall in Krasnogorsk.
  • Video shows gunmen in fatigues shooting people with automatic weapons.
  • Moscow mayor cancels all large gatherings, events this weekend.
  • U.S. and Canadian embassies had recently urged citizens to avoid crowded areas due to risk of imminent attack.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Saturday that authorities have detained 11 people after an attack on a suburban Moscow concert hall that killed at least 137 people and left the sprawling venue a smoldering ruin with a collapsed roof.

The Islamic State group (ISIS) claimed responsibility for Friday’s attack in a statement posted on affiliated social media channels. A U.S. intelligence official told The Associated Press that its agencies had confirmed that the Islamic State’s affiliate in Afghanistan, known as ISIS-Khorasan or ISIS-K, was responsible.

In a statement posted by its Aamaq news agency, ISIS-K said it had attacked a large gathering of “Christians” in Krasnogorsk, a suburb on Moscow’s western edge. It was not immediately possible to verify the authenticity of the claim.

In an address to the nation, Putin called it “a bloody, barbaric terrorist act” and said all four people who were directly involved had been taken into custody. He suggested they had been trying to cross the border into Ukraine which, he said, tried to create a “window” to help them escape. He provided no evidence for the claim and Ukraine has denied any involvement.

“They tried to hide and moved toward Ukraine where, according to preliminary data, a window was prepared for them from the Ukrainian side to cross the state border,” Putin said.

The four suspects were stopped in the Bryansk region of western Russia, “not far from the border with Ukraine,” Russia’s Investigative Committee said. They planned to cross the border into Ukraine and “had contacts” there, state news agency Tass said, citing Russia’s federal security service (FSB).

“Ukraine has never resorted to the use of terrorist methods,” Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, said on X, formerly Twitter. “Everything in this war will be decided only on the battlefield.”

Rescuers with the Russian Emergency Ministry are seen on Saturday as they work inside Crocus City Hall, destroyed by fire during an attack by gunmen on Friday. The music venue is in Krasnogorsk, a suburb on the western edge of Moscow. (Russian Emergency Ministry Press Service/The Associated Press)

Images shared by Russian state media Saturday showed a fleet of emergency vehicles still gathered outside the ruins of Crocus City Hall, a shopping mall and concert hall with a capacity of more than 6,000 people in Krasnogorsk.

The attack came just days after Putin cemented his grip on power in a highly orchestrated electoral landslide as his country’s war in Ukraine dragged into a third year.

Videos posted online showed gunmen in the venue shooting civilians at point-blank range. At least three children are reported to be among the dead.

WATCH | Sounds of gunshots, panic as concert hall attacked: 

Video shows panic, people fleeing as shots heard in Russian concert hall

Video obtained by Reuters from Telegram channel Ostorozhno Novosti on Friday shows people in a concert hall outside Moscow fleeing and shouting ‘close the doors’ amid the sounds of gunfire.

The roof of the theatre, where crowds had gathered Friday for a performance by the Russian rock band Picnic, collapsed in the early hours of Saturday morning as firefighters spent hours fighting a fire that erupted during the attack.

Russia’s Investigative Committee said some victims died from gunshot wounds and others in the fire. Reports said the gunmen had lit the blaze using petrol from canisters they carried in rucksacks. Health officials said more than 120 people were wounded.

WATCH | ISIS-K has been fixated on Russia for the past 2 years: 

Moscow concert hall attack: Why ISIS would target Russia

ISIS is claiming responsibility for a Moscow-area concert hall attack that’s left dozens dead. CBC’s Ben Makuch, a national security reporter who has covered ISIS for more than a decade, explains why the group would target Russia. [This story has been updated to clarify that ISIS-K is designated a terrorist group by Canada and other countries, including the U.S. and the U.K.]

Messages of outrage, shock and support for those affected have since streamed in from around the world.

On Friday, the UN Security Council condemned “the heinous and cowardly terrorist attack” and underlined the need for the perpetrators to be held accountable. UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres also condemned the terrorist attack “in the strongest possible terms,” his spokesperson said.

Meanwhile, in Moscow itself, hundreds of people stood in line Saturday morning to donate blood and plasma, Russia’s health ministry said.

Putin ordered that Sunday will be a nationwide day of mourning and said “all the perpetrators, organizers and those who ordered this crime will be justly and inevitably punished.” 

WATCH | Massive fires erupts following attack: 

Emergency responders battle blaze at the scene of fatal shooting near Moscow

Following a deadly attack leaving dozens killed at the Crocus City Concert Hall in Krasnogorsk, Russia, emergency crews worked to contain a fire that had sparked in the building.

Putin, who extended his grip on Russia for another six years in this week’s presidential vote after a sweeping crackdown on dissent, had publicly denounced the Western warnings of a potential terrorist attack as an attempt to intimidate Russians.

“All that resembles open blackmail and an attempt to frighten and destabilize our society,” he said earlier this week.

The U.S. intelligence official who spoke to The Associated Press said U.S. intelligence agencies had gathered information in recent weeks that the ISIS branch in Afghanistan was planning an attack in Moscow, and that U.S. officials had privately shared the intelligence earlier this month with Russian officials.

The official was briefed on the matter but was not authorized to publicly discuss the intelligence information and spoke to AP on condition of anonymity.

WATCH | Why ISIS would target Russia:

ISIS claims responsibility for Moscow-area concert hall attack

ISIS has claimed responsibility for an attack on a Moscow-area concert hall that killed dozens of people and injured more than 100.

In October 2015, a bomb planted by the Islamic State downed a Russian passenger plane over Sinai, killing all 224 people on board, most of them Russian vacation-goers returning from Egypt.

The group, which operates mainly in Syria and Iraq but also in Afghanistan and Africa, also has claimed several attacks in Russia’s volatile Caucasus and other regions in the past years. It recruited fighters from Russia and other parts of the former Soviet Union.

Putin changed the course of the Syrian civil war by intervening in 2015, supporting President Bashar al-Assad against the opposition and Islamic State.

“ISIS-K has been fixated on Russia for the past two years, frequently criticizing Putin in its propaganda,” said Colin Clarke of the Soufan Center, a New York-based research group.

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