Moscow: “Islamic State” Claims Concert Hall Attack – Eleven Arrested, 143 Killed

NAfter one of the worst terrorist attacks in Russian history with more than 140 deaths, many questions remain unanswered about the perpetrators, those behind it and their motives. After claiming responsibility for Friday evening's attack at the Crocus City Hall concert venue, the Islamic State (IS) terrorist group released pixelated photos of the alleged attack on Saturday. On the other hand, Kremlin leader Vladimir Putin said after several arrests that Ukraine had a trail. Nor have Russian propagandists spared themselves baseless accusations against Ukraine, against which Russia has been waging a brutal war of aggression for more than two years. Kyiv, for its part, has categorically denied any involvement.

The day after the horrific crime in the city of Krasnogorsk, northwest of Moscow, is gray and overcast. Heavily armed security forces patrol the front of the concert hall, which until recently was a popular destination for residents of the Russian capital. A light drizzle continues to fall. Many survivors returned to Crocus City Hall Saturday to mourn and leave flowers. Instead of advertising, an image of a candle is lit on light boards and below it the inscription: “We mourn. March 22, 2024.”

The attack was carried out in the city of Krasnogorsk

Source: Infographic Weld

Margarita, 30, said she and her husband were standing in the upper audience stand when armed attackers stormed the concert hall. “We wanted to take a souvenir photo.” She first thought the explosion was loud applause for the performers, she recalled. “But it kept knocking. I knew immediately that something was wrong.

Gunmen opened fire on people at a concert hall near Moscow

The men cover themselves with blankets as a Russian police officer stands guard

What: REUTERS

Russia-shooting

Police officers stand in front of a burning concert hall

Source: AFP/STRINGER

The death toll from the attack rose to at least 143 on Saturday, including at least three children. A Moscow investigative team said emergency services found more bodies while clearing the rubble from the center's concert hall. Also, more than 100 people have been injured, officials said. It is also reported that the search for the victims is ongoing. Eleven suspects were arrested, at least four of whom were directly involved in the attack on the event center, FSB chief Alexander Portnikov said.

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Putin: “They have moved towards Ukraine”

Russian President Vladimir Putin said in a speech broadcast on state television Saturday afternoon that Ukraine was involved in the terrorist attack. Referring to the four arrested, he said: “They tried to hide and moved towards Ukraine, where a window was prepared for them to cross the border.” Russia's domestic secret service FSB earlier said the arrests were made in the border area, Bryansk said. .

Ukraine, which has been waging a brutal war of aggression against Russia for more than two years, has categorically rejected rumors of involvement. Ukrainian military intelligence opposed Putin and pointed out that the border had been cut for a long time. There is also a letter of responsibility from the terrorist group Islamic State, which has already been classified as genuine by many experts. However, many questions remain unanswered. Russian propagandists were quick to claim that Ukraine was behind the bloodshed. They did not provide any evidence for this.

The intelligence services of the United States and other Western countries had already warned of the impending attack in early March. The US embassy in Moscow wrote on March 7 that it was monitoring reports that militants had imminent plans to attack large gatherings, including a concert in Moscow. He urged the companions to avoid gatherings and otherwise exercise caution.

Putin dismissed the warnings as Western provocation. The purpose of such warnings from the West is to destabilize the situation in Russia, he said in a speech at the FSB earlier this week.

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Near Moscow

Concert hall attack

IS propaganda channel Amak released a picture on Saturday of four people with their faces blurred. The report said the militants, armed with assault rifles, pistols and explosives, dealt a “severe blow” to Russia. The attack targeted “thousands of Christians in the music hall”. ISIS fights Christians and considers them infidels.

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However, Russian investigators did not comment on this. Reports that the suspected perpetrators are citizens of Tajikistan, a former Soviet republic in Central Asia, are unconfirmed. The passports found in their getaway car may have been forged. Bordering Afghanistan, Tajikistan is known as a haven for Islamic terrorists.

So far, IS serious attacks on Russian targets have been rare. However, Islamists have also had Moscow's politics on their radar for years. According to experts, Russia's military presence in Syria is a particular thorn in the group's side. Putin is the most important ally of Syrian ruler Bashar al-Assad. After the civil war broke out, IS controlled large parts of eastern Syria and northern Iraq between 2014 and 2017. A regional group of terrorist fighters is active in the Caucasus region, particularly in the Muslim-majority republics of Dagestan and Chechnya. Globally, IS has repeatedly called on its followers to fight against non-Muslims.

Repeated serious terrorist attacks

There have been several terrorist attacks in Russia in the past. In September 2004, a hostage crisis at a school in Beslan (North Ossetia) ended with 360 deaths. Chechen rebels took more than 800 hostages at a Moscow concert hall in October 2002. 129 hostages and 40 terrorists were killed in the liberation operation. In the fall of 1999, more than 300 people were killed in several Chechen bombings in Dagestan.

The surviving Margarita appeared composed, but visibly shaken as she recounted more details of the attack. After running hand-in-hand through corridors and under gunfire, she and her husband came to a dark room on the lower floor, possibly a warehouse, where they found a sign saying “Exit” – and they managed to escape. Putin has planned a national day of mourning for Russia this Sunday following the terror attack

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