Sun. Apr 21st, 2024

Russian authorities announced on Saturday the apprehension of 11 individuals, including four gunmen, in connection with the assault on a Moscow concert hall attributed to the Islamic State, as the death toll climbed to 115. President Vladimir Putin has yet to publicly address the attack, and Moscow has refrained from commenting on the Islamic State’s claim of responsibility, despite some lawmakers suggesting a potential link to Ukraine.

The incident unfolded on Friday evening at Crocus City Hall in Moscow’s Krasnogorsk suburb, where camouflaged assailants opened fire before a concert by the Soviet-era rock band Piknik, marking the deadliest attack in Russia in at least a decade. The FSB security service disclosed that some perpetrators had fled towards the Russia-Ukraine border and indicated their “appropriate contacts” within the country, though specific details were not provided.

While certain Russian lawmakers hinted at a Ukrainian involvement without presenting evidence, Ukrainian presidential aide Mykhailo Podolyak denied any connection to the attack, asserting that Ukraine played no part in the incident. The Kremlin reported that FSB Director Alexander Bortnikov briefed President Putin on the arrests, as authorities cautioned that the casualty count was expected to rise, with over 100 individuals still hospitalized and ongoing search efforts at the venue.

The death toll has climbed to at least 115, according to Russia’s Investigative Committee, with rescue operations ongoing as bodies are recovered from the scene. Investigators indicated that fatalities resulted from both gunshot wounds and smoke inhalation after a fire broke out in the 6,000-seat venue. Video footage circulated on social media capturing the chaos as concert-goers fled the gunmen, who were later claimed by the Islamic State.

International condemnation poured in following the attack, with Afghanistan’s Taliban and other world leaders denouncing the violence. Questions have emerged regarding Russia’s intelligence services in light of the assault, particularly after recent warnings from Western sources about potential attacks in Moscow. Despite prior alerts from the US embassy regarding extremist threats targeting large gatherings, President Putin dismissed such warnings as propaganda just days before the tragedy unfolded.

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