At Least 133 Dead in Attack at Concert Hall Outside Moscow

At least 133 people were killed and more than 140 were injured during a mass shooting at a concert venue outside Moscow Friday, The New York Times reports.

The attack took place at Crocus City Hall, a massive complex in Krasnogorsk that includes a concert venue, shopping mall, convention center, hotels, and restaurants. The shooting reportedly took place as fans were awaiting the start of a show by the longstanding Russian rock band Picnic. 

Videos posted on social media showed gunmen entering Crocus City Hall and opening fire on the crowd as they waited for the show to start. A reporter on the scene for the local news agency RIA Novosit said: “At least three people in camouflage burst into the ground floor of Crocus City Hall and opened fire with automatic weapons. There are definitely wounded.”

On top of the shooting, an explosion at Crocus City was reported at around 9:32 p.m. local time. This led to a fire, which reportedly engulfed more than a third of the complex. Helicopters were sent to help rescue people on the roof of the building, while another section of the roof, above the stage, was reportedly collapsing.

Russian media reports that the Russian Security Service detained “all four terrorists directly involved in the terrorist attack in Crocus”. ISIS claimed responsibility for the terror attack in a statement without providing evidence. Despite ISIS’s claim, the Russian Foreign Ministry and the Russian State Duma Defense Committee both pointed blame at Ukraine – the four terrorists were reportedly detained near the Ukrainian border – although Ukraine has steadfastly denied any involvement.

“We consider such accusations to be a planned provocation by the Kremlin to further fuel anti-Ukrainian hysteria in Russian society, create conditions for increased mobilization of Russian citizens to participate in the criminal aggression against our country and discredit Ukraine in the eyes of the international community,” the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry said Friday.

Russia’s FBI equivalent, the Investigative Committee, wrote on Telegram that it had “opened a criminal case regarding a terrorist attack in the Moscow Region… An investigative team from the central office of the Russian Investigative Committee went to the scene of the incident” (via Google Translate). 

A spokesperson for Russian president Vladimir Putin said Friday, “The President constantly receives information about what is happening and about the measures being taken through all relevant services, the head of state has given all the necessary instructions.” Moscow Mayor Sergei S. Sobyanin wrote on Telegram, “Today a terrible tragedy occurred in the Crocus City shopping center. My condolences to the loved ones of the victims.”

The attack notably comes several weeks after the U.S. Embassy in Moscow put out a March 7 security alert warning that “extremists have imminent plans to target large gatherings in Moscow,” and advised U.S. citizens to “avoid large gatherings over the next 48 hours.” No incidents occurred during that time frame, and on March 19, Putin called the alert “obviously blackmail” to “intimidate and destabilize our society.” 

The attack also takes place against the ongoing backdrop of Russia’s war in Ukraine, and already U.S. and Russian officials appear to be bickering over any theoretical or potential connection. White House national security communications adverse, John Kirby, told reporters there was “no indication at this time that Ukraine, or Ukrainians, were involved in the shooting.” Mykhailo Podolyak, an advisor to Ukraine’s presidential office, issued a video statement saying the country had “absolutely nothing to do” with the attack.” 


Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Russia’s foreign ministry, Maria Zakharova, said, “On what basis do officials in Washington draw any conclusions in the midst of a tragedy about someone’s innocence?” She added (per Reuters) that if Washington had any information about the attack, it should share it.

This story was updated March 23 at 8 a.m. ET and 3:45 p.m. ET with the new death toll, injured, and report of arrests.

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