Islamic State terrorists kill at least 137, wound hundreds in Moscow concert hall shooting

The death toll from an attack near Moscow on Saturday has risen to 137 people, with many more injured, Russia’s Investigative Committee said. However, Russian state TV journalist and head of Russia Today Margarita Simonyan claimed that the toll stands at 143 murdered.

Another source, Moscow Region, reported that 121 people were wounded with 60 of them in critical condition.

Russia has arrested 11 people including four suspected gunmen in connection with the shooting rampage in a concert hall near Moscow, the Kremlin said on Saturday.

Islamic State, the terrorist group that once sought control over swathes of Iraq and Syria, claimed responsibility for the attack, the group’s Telegram channel said. The United States has intelligence confirming Islamic State’s claim of responsibility for a deadly shooting at a concert near Moscow, a US official said on Friday.

The official said the United States had warned Russia on March 8 that “extremists” had imminent plans for an attack in Moscow, hours after Russian security services said they had foiled a planned shooting at a synagogue by a cell of Islamic State.

“We did warn the Russians appropriately,” said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity, without providing any additional details. The death toll made it one of the worst attacks on Russia since the 2004 Beslan school siege, when Islamist terrorists took more than 1,000 people hostage, including hundreds of children.

“Earlier this month, the US government had information about a planned terrorist attack in Moscow – potentially targeting large gatherings, to include concerts – which prompted the State Department to issue a public advisory to Americans in Russia,” said Adrienne Watson, spokesperson for the White House National Security Council. “The US government also shared this information with Russian authorities in accordance with its longstanding ‘duty to warn’ policy.”

Death tolls are being updated rapidly Russian state news agency TASS reported, citing information from Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB,) saying at least 60 were killed and 145 wounded.

Russia’s Baza news outlet later reported that the death toll in an attack on concertgoers near Moscow has risen to 62 people, according to preliminary information.

The Russian National Guard is searching for those who attacked the Crocus City Hall concert center near Moscow, Russian news agency Interfax reported on Friday. Flames leaped into the sky, and plumes of black smoke rose above the venue, Reuters pictures and video showed.

Firefighting crews have contained a fire at the Crocus City Hall, a concert center near Moscow, where shooting took place and explosions were heard on Friday night, Russian news agency Interfax reported.

Russian media reported a second blast at the venue and there were reports that some of the gunmen had barricaded themselves somewhere in the building. The shooting appeared to have begun at a concert of the band “Picnic.”

A verified video showed people taking their seats in the hall, then rushing for the exits as repeated gunfire echoed above screams. Other videos showed men shooting at groups of people. Some victims lay motionless in pools of blood.

“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.”

The shooting began days after President Vladimir Putin was re-elected for a new six-year term and as Russia is prosecuting a war with Ukraine. The BRIEF news outlet reported 14 people had been killed. Another media outlet, Baza, later reported that 18 people had been killed and 43 hurt.

Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) said all necessary measures were being taken. It said there had been casualties. It was not immediately clear who the gunmen were. Russian news agencies said 70 ambulance crews had been sent to the scene.

“A terrible tragedy occurred in the shopping center Crocus City today,” Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said. “I am sorry for the loved ones of the victims.” Russia tightened security at airports and stations and across the capital – a vast urban area of over 21 million people. Putin has yet to comment in public. Russia’s foreign ministry said it was a “bloody terrorist attack.”

Russian law enforcement officers stand guard near the Crocus City Hall concert venue following a reported shooting incident, outside Moscow, Russia, March 22, 2024. (credit: MAXIM SHEMETOV/REUTERS)

“The entire world community is obliged to condemn this monstrous crime,” Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said. “All efforts are being thrown at saving people.”

Children were among those killed in a shooting incident at the Crocus City Hall concert center near Moscow on Friday, Russian media outlet Fontanka reported on Friday, citing Nina Ostanina, a lawmaker in the State Duma, the lower house of parliament.

Russian state news agency RIA on Saturday quoted a spokesperson for the country’s Investigative Committee as saying it was too early to say anything about the fate of the attackers who killed more than 60 people at a concert near Moscow.

Second explosion reported

In one unverified video posted on social media, men with automatic weapons were shown firing repeatedly at screaming civilians, including women, who were cowering below what looked like an entrance sign to “Crocus City Hall.”

Other video footage showed a number of people lying motionless in pools of blood outside the hall. Reuters was unable to immediately verify the footage.

Another video showed the attackers shooting at people in the concert hall.

Russian rescue services have evacuated about 100 people from the basement of the Crocus City Hall, the Moscow Region concert venue where the shooting and explosions occurred on Friday night, but there are still people on the roof, Russian news agencies reported.

Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) said it is taking “all necessary measures” in connection with the shooting at the Crocus City Hall concert venue near Moscow, Russian news agency Interfax reported on Friday.

A second explosion has been heard at Crocus City Hall near Moscow, the site of a shooting incident, Russian news agencies reported on Friday.

Tightening security 

Russia tightened security at airports and stations and across the capital – a vast urban area of over 21 million people. “A terrible tragedy occurred in the shopping center Crocus City today,” Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said. “I am sorry for the loved ones of the victims.” Russia’s foreign ministry said it was a “bloody terrorist attack.”

“The entire world community is obliged to condemn this monstrous crime,” Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said. “All efforts are being thrown at saving people.” All entertainment and mass events in Russia have been canceled, the Russian Culture Ministry said on Friday.

Earlier, all mass events were canceled in Moscow due to the shooting at the Crocus City Hall concert center near Moscow.

The White House said on Friday that images of shooting in the Russian capital were hard to watch. “The images are just horrible and just hard to watch and our thoughts obviously are going to be with the victims of this terrible, terrible shooting attack,” White House spokesman John Kirby said.

Kirby said there was “no indication at this time that Ukraine, or Ukrainians were involved in the shooting.” Zakharova questioned how the US knew this and said Washington should immediately pass any information it had to Moscow, or stop making such statements.

“On what basis do officials in Washington draw any conclusions in the midst of a tragedy about someone’s innocence?” Zakharova said. All large-scale sporting, cultural, and other public events will be canceled in Moscow this weekend after a shooting incident, Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said on Friday.

A helicopter has been called in to put out a fire at the Crocus City Hall concert venue near Moscow following a shooting incident, Russia’s state-owned news agency TASS reported on Friday. The roof of Crocus City Hall, the flame-engulfed concert center near Moscow where gunfire and explosions were heard on Friday night, is collapsing, Russian state-owned news agency RIA reported.

Condemnations of the attack

Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak said on Friday that Kyiv had nothing to do with Friday’s attack by gunmen at a Moscow concert hall.

“Let’s be straight about this: Ukraine had absolutely nothing to do with these events,” Podolyak said in a video message posted on Telegram.

“We have a full-scale, all-out war with the Russian regular army and with the Russian Federation as a country. And regardless of everything, everything will be decided on the battlefield,” Podolyak said.

The White House said on Friday that images of shooting in the Russian capital were hard to watch.

The US embassy in Russia warned earlier this month that “extremists” had imminent plans for an attack in Moscow.

It issued its warning several hours after the FSB, the main successor to the Soviet-era KGB, said it had foiled an attack on a synagogue in Moscow by a cell of the militant Sunni Muslim group Islamic State.

Turkey condemned the shooting at the Crocus City Hall concert center on Friday near Moscow, calling it a terrorist attack, Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan told Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in a phone call, a Turkish diplomatic source said.

Russian president comments on the situation

Russian President Vladimir Putin is receiving regular updates about the shooting at the Crocus City Hall concert near Moscow, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Friday.

“Vladimir Putin was informed about the beginning of the shooting in the first minutes of what happened in Crocus City Hall,” the Kremlin said.

“The president constantly receives information about what is happening and about the measures being taken through all relevant services. The head of state gave all the necessary instructions,” Peskov said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin wished a speedy recovery to those injured in an attack on a concert near Moscow that killed at least 60, state news agency TASS reported, citing Deputy Prime Minister Tatiana Golikova.

This is a developing story.



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