ISIS claims responsibility for Moscow concert hall attack that killed at least 93 | CBC News

At least 93 people were killed and more than 140 others were wounded in an attack that began at a Moscow-area concert hall Friday night, according to Russia’s Investigative Committee. Russian government officials say children are among the dead and wounded.

Russian media outlets reported that between two to five assailants dressed in combat fatigues burst into the Crocus City Hall in Krasnogorsk, a suburb on the western edge of the city, firing automatic weapons at the crowds and setting off explosives, causing a massive blaze.

ISIS, also known as Islamic State, issued a claim of responsibility hours later on its Telegram channel.

Flames leapt into the sky, and plumes of black smoke rose above the venue as hundreds of blue lights from emergency vehicles flashed in the night, pictures and video showed.

Russian state-owned news agency RIA reported earlier that the roof of the venue was collapsing. Russian media also reported a second blast at the venue.

A massive fire is seen on roof of the Crocus City Hall on the western edge of Moscow Friday night. Several gunmen burst into the concert hall and fired automatic weapons at the crowd, killing and injuring dozens of people and setting a massive blaze in an apparent terror attack. (Sergei Vedyashkin/Moscow News Agency/The Associated Press)

Helicopters sought to douse flames that engulfed the large building and evacuated around 100 people.

Shortly before 11 p.m. local time, Russia’s Interfax news agency reported firefighting crews had contained the fire, which had grown to approximately 12,900 square metres.

The attack took place as crowds gathered for a concert by Picnic, a famed Russian rock band, at the hall, which can accommodate over 6,000 people.

Crocus City Hall is a part of a larger complex that also includes a shopping mall, convention centre and other facilities. 

‘Everyone was screaming’

Verified video shows people taking their seats in the hall, then rushing for the exits as repeated gunfire echoed above screams.

Other video shows men shooting at groups of people. Some victims lay motionless in pools of blood.

Some video showed up to four attackers, armed with assault rifles and wearing caps, who were shooting screaming people at point-blank range.

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.

Another one showed a man inside the auditorium, saying the assailants set it on fire, with incessant gunshots ringing out in the background.

“Suddenly, there were bangs behind us — shots. A burst of firing, I do not know what,” one witness who asked not to be named told Reuters.

“A stampede began. Everyone ran to the escalator,” the witness said. “Everyone was screaming, everyone was running.”

A close up of a man pointing an automatic rifle.
In this cropped still image from video uploaded to social media, one of the gunmen involved in the attack aims an automatic rifle at people huddling to protect themselves. (Supplied/Reuters)

Russian media reports said that riot police, 70 ambulance crews and Russia’s National Guard were all sent to the area as people fled.

Russian President Vladimir Putin wished a speedy recovery to those injured in the attack, TASS reported, citing Deputy Prime Minister Tatiana Golikova.

Warning from U.S.

The United States has confirmed the claim of responsibility by ISIS’s affiliate in Afghanistan, known as ISIS-Khorasan or ISIS-K, according to one U.S. official. 

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.

Washington, through its embassy in Moscow, had recently warned the public about the possibility of an attack — saying on March 7 that extremists had “imminent plans to target large gatherings” including concerts, in the capital. The warning was repeated by several other Western embassies, including Canada’s.

One U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity with The Associated Press, said the intelligence reports behind that warning were privately shared earlier this month with Russian officials. 

White House national security adviser John Kirby said Friday that he couldn’t yet speak about all the details, but that “the images are just horrible. And just hard to watch.”

Canada’s ambassador to Russia, Sarah Taylor, on Friday cautioned “further attacks could occur at any time” and told Canadians in areas affected by the attack to contact the embassy if they are in need of emergency assistance.

Global Affairs Canada has previously warned Canadians to avoid all travel to Russia due to the war with Ukraine and the risk of terrorism.

Hours before the U.S. warning on March 7, Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) said it had foiled an attack on a Moscow synagogue by ISIS-K.

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

“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.

Two body bags lay on the ground at night next to a white van, with uniformed emergency workers crowded in the background.
The bodies of of some of the at least 60 people killed in Friday night’s attack lay outside Crocus City Hall early Saturday morning. (Maxim Shemetov/Reuters)

The broader Islamic State group has claimed deadly attacks across the Middle East, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, Europe, Philippines and Sri Lanka.

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

‘A monstrous crime’

It wasn’t immediately clear what happened to the assailants, but the Russian National Guard is searching for those who carried out the attack — the worst in Russia in two decades.

Some outlets said gunmen barricaded themselves in the building, but RIA said the gunmen were presumed to be at large.

The FSB said it is taking “all necessary measures” in connection with the shooting, Interfax reported.

Putin is receiving regular updates about the attack, according to Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov.

Armed security guards, wearing helmets and fatigues, stand in front of a building with the words "Crocus City Hall" on the top. Flames and smoke are rising above the building.
Russian law enforcement officers stand guard near the burning concert hall. Riot police, 70 ambulance crews and Russia’s National Guard all responded to the incident. (Maxim Shemetov/Reuters)

Russian ombudsperson Tatyana Moskalkova labelled the event a “terrorist attack” while Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said it was “a monstrous crime” and called on the international community to condemn the attack.

Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin described the attack as a “huge tragedy.”

He cancelled all mass gatherings in the city and shut theatres and museums for the weekend.

Russian authorities said they had stepped up security measures at Moscow airports and railway stations, agencies reported.

Two people clad in white, full-body suits stand next to tables where uniformed men examine weapons.
Investigators from the Investigative Committee of Russia together with the operational units of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Federal Security Service (FSB), examine evidence found at the scene of the Crocus City Hall attack. (Investigative Committee of Russia/The Associated Press)

Russia was shaken by a series of deadly terror attacks in the early 2000s during the fighting with separatists in the province of Chechnya.

In October 2002, Chechen militants took about 800 people hostage at a Moscow theatre.

Two days later, Russian special forces stormed the building and 129 hostages and 41 Chechen fighters died, most of them from effects of narcotic gas used to subdue the attackers.

And in September 2004, about 30 Chechen militants seized a school in Beslan in southern Russia taking hundreds of hostages.

The siege ended in a bloodbath two days later and more than 330 people, about half of them children, were killed.

People muster outside at night among a number of armed police outside a building following an attack.
Men cover themselves with blankets outside the concert venue as Russian law enforcement officers stand guard near the burning building. (Maxim Shemetov/Reuters)

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