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Death toll mounts to 133 in Moscow concert Hall attack

Four arrested attackers were headed towards Ukraine: Putin
08:46 PM Mar 23, 2024 IST | SURINDER SINGH OBEROI
death toll mounts to 133 in moscow concert hall attack
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New Delhi, March 23: Multiple terrorists, armed with automatic assault rifles and bombs, dressed in camouflage, stormed into Crocus City Hall, Friday evening during a rock concert, opening fire on the unsuspecting crowd.

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According to Russian news agencies quoting the FSB Security Service chief, four individuals directly involved in the Moscow concert hall attack have been among 11 detained, with the security chief informing President Vladimir Putin.

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The attack, described as an act of terrorism, resulted in the deaths of at least 133 people and left over 140 others wounded, as confirmed by the FSB Federal Security Service. The number of deaths may further increase.

Four arrested attackers were headed towards Ukraine: Russian President

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Russian President Vladimir Putin condemned the recent concert hall attack as a "bloody barbaric terrorist act" that claimed numerous innocent lives during a televised address. He highlighted progress in the investigation, stating that the four main perpetrators had been apprehended and were responsible for the fatal shootings.

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He designated March 24th as a National Day of Mourning and emphasized the implementation of stringent anti-terrorist and anti-sabotage measures across Russia to prevent future tragedies.

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Putin revealed that the four attackers were headed towards Ukraine when they were detained, indicating an attempt to flee across the border. With 11 individuals currently in custody, Russian security services are actively investigating accomplices involved in providing transportation, plotting escape routes, and stockpiling weapons.

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

“Whoever they are, whoever is guiding them. I repeat: we will identify and punish everyone who stands behind the terrorists."

Expressing confidence in medical professionals, Putin asserted their unwavering commitment to preserving the lives and well-being of the wounded. He extended gratitude to paramedics, Special Forces operatives, and ordinary citizens who volunteered their assistance in saving lives.

Rescue efforts are underway at the site of the Crocus Concert Hall, where Russian firefighters, including the use of helicopters, have been battling the blaze. Witnesses describe the venue, once renowned for hosting concerts, now transformed into a disaster and rubble zone, with thick smoke still rising from the building.

Moscow residents have been queuing to donate blood for the victims, with reports indicating that even the Russian national football team will contribute. Electronic billboards across the country display messages of mourning.

The attackers, armed with automatic assault rifles and explosives, stormed the concert hall during a rock concert, causing chaos as they indiscriminately fired upon the crowd. Video footage captured the harrowing scenes inside the venue as concertgoers sought cover.

The Investigative Committee of Russia has released images of ammunition and weapons believed to have been used in the attack. The investigation is ongoing, with authorities examining CCTV footage and conducting ballistic, genetic, and fingerprint examinations.

Updates on the situation are being provided to President Putin, according to his spokesperson Dmitry Peskov. Meanwhile, Russia's ombudsman has described the shooting as an act of terrorism.

In response to the attack, Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin has cancelled all public events scheduled for the weekend in the Russian capital.

Ukraine has firmly denied any involvement in the Moscow concert hall attack, which occurred amid the ongoing conflict with Russia. Ukraine Presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak dismissed accusations and cautioned against using the incident to escalate conflicts.

On his Telegram channel, Mykhailo Podolyak reiterated Ukraine's lack of association with the events at Crocus City, stating, "Ukraine has absolutely no involvement in these events involving shooting and terrorist actions by unidentified individuals."

Similarly, US National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby addressed reporters, emphasizing that there is no evidence suggesting Ukrainian involvement in the shooting. Kirby stated, "At this moment, there is no indication of any connection between Ukraine or Ukrainians and the shooting."

Meanwhile, Dmitry Medvedev, Russia's former president and current deputy chairman of the security council, called for a relentless pursuit and elimination of the perpetrators, particularly if they were linked to the Kyiv regime. Medvedev expressed on the Telegram app, "If those responsible for the attack are identified as Ukrainian, they must all be located and decisively dealt with as terrorists."

The Islamic State (ISIS) has claimed responsibility for the attack, though Moscow has not commented on the claim, and President Putin has yet to address the public about the incident.

The US considers it credible that an affiliate of the Islamic State group could be behind the attack, following the group's claim. Russia has not provided any comment on the matter.

Earlier this month, the US embassy in Moscow warned of "extremists" having imminent plans to target large gatherings in Moscow, including concerts, BBC reported however the warning was dismissed. Russia has not commented

Before this incident, Russian security forces thwarted an alleged ISIS plot targeting a synagogue in Moscow, underscoring ongoing threats posed by extremist elements. Earlier, the US embassy had warned of potential terror threats targeting large gatherings in Moscow, including concerts, urging Americans to steer clear of such events.

Some analysts and authorities in Europe, however, have for months now been speculating about the growing ambitions of the IS group's Afghanistan-focused Khorasan province branch (IS-K or ISIS-K), which is believed to have Russian-speaking Central Asians in its ranks.

World reacts to the terrorist attack

Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed his solidarity through a social media platform, condemning the terrorist attack in Moscow and offering thoughts and prayers to the victims' families. He affirmed India's support for the Russian government and people during this time of grief.

The US embassy in Moscow issued a statement expressing shock and extending condolences to the Russian people, advising US citizens to avoid the affected area. The White House National Security Council John Kirby expressed solidarity with the victims.

The French ministry conveyed horror at the attack, offering condolences to the victims and their families while urging a swift investigation.

UK's Foreign Secretary Lord David Cameron condemned the terrorist attack in the strongest terms, offering heartfelt condolences to the victims' families and expressing sympathy for those injured.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz condemned the "terrible terrorist attack" in Moscow, expressing solidarity with the victims' families and all those injured.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres condemned the terrorist attack in the "strongest possible terms," extending deep condolences to the bereaved families and the people and government of the Russian Federation.

The assault at Crocus City Hall in Moscow, resulting in the deaths of at least 133 individuals, stands as Russia's deadliest attack since the Beslan school siege in 2004. During that tragic event, Chechen separatists held over 1,000 hostages, predominantly children, resulting in the deaths of over 330 individuals, including 186 children. Last night's attack evoked memories of the 2002 theatre siege in the capital when 40 Chechen militants seized more than 900 hostages during a musical performance.

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