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Russian emergency services attempt to extinguish the blaze at the Crocus City concert hall in Moscow. Alamy Stock Photo
islamic state

Arrests made as death toll in Moscow terrorist attack rises to 133

The Islamic State group have claimed responsibility for the attack.


RUSSIAN AUTHORITIES HAVE claimed they have arrested the four men suspected of carrying out the attack on a suburban Moscow concert hall that killed at least 133 people, President Vladimir Putin said this evening during an address to the nation.

He claimed they were captured while fleeing to Ukraine.

Kyiv strongly denied any involvement in Friday’s attack on the Crocus City Hall music venue in Krasnogorsk and so-called Islamic State’s Afghanistan affiliate claimed responsibility.

Camouflaged assailants opened fire at the packed Crocus City Hall in Moscow’s northern suburb of Krasnogorsk yesterday evening ahead of a concert by Soviet-era rock band Piknik in the deadliest attack in Russia for at least a decade.

Russia’s FSB security service said some of the perpetrators had fled towards the Russia-Ukraine border, adding that the assailants had “appropriate contacts” in the country, according to a statement cited by state-run news agencies.

It did not provide further details.

The Kremlin said the head of the FSB security service had informed President Vladimir Putin about the arrests, while authorities warned the number of fatalities was set to keep rising, with more than 100 still hospitalised.

“FSB Director Alexander Bortnikov reported to the president on the detention of 11 people, including four terrorists involved in the terrorist attack at Crocus City Hall,” it said.

Putin himself has not made any public remarks or been seen in public in the more than 12 hours since the attack.

At least 93 killed

Russia’s Investigative Committee said people died both from gunshot wounds and from smoke inhalation after a fire engulfed the 6,000-seater venue.

“The terrorists used a flammable liquid to set fire to the concert hall’s premises, where spectators were located, including wounded,” the Investigative Committee said.

A fire had quickly spread through the venue yesterday after reports of the mass shooting, with screaming concert-goers rushing to emergency exits.

Some filmed the gunmen from the upper floors as they appeared to methodically walk through the stalls shooting people, footage shared on social media showed.

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility, saying its fighters attacked “a large gathering” on Moscow’s outskirts and “retreated to their bases safely”.

Global condemnation

Russian authorities have called it a “terrorist attack”, but have not commented on Islamic State’s claim.

Some 107 people were still in hospital this morning, according to Russia’s Emergency Situations Ministry.

Russian Telegram channels, including Baza which is close to the security services, and a lawmaker said some of the suspects were from the central Asian nation of Tajikistan.

In a statement, Tajikistan’s foreign affairs ministry said it had not received any information from Moscow about the involvement of its citizens.

In Moscow, residents formed long queues in the Saturday morning rain to donate blood, according to videos posted by state media outlets.

Memorial posters featuring a single candle replaced advertising billboards at some Moscow bus stops, the RIA Novosti state agency reported.

Major events were cancelled across the country, including a friendly football match between Russia and Paraguay set to take place in Moscow on Monday.

Statements of condemnation from world leaders continued to roll in.

A spokesperson for Afghanistan’s foreign ministry said the Taliban “condemns in the strongest terms the recent terrorist attack in Moscow, Russia … and considers it a blatant violation of all human standards.”

Tánaiste and Foreign Affairs Minister Micheál Martin said on X/Twitter:

“I am shocked by the horrific scenes of the indiscriminate attack in Moscow tonight. Targeting civilians can never be justified in any circumstances. I extend my condolences to all those who have lost loved ones.”

US warning dismissed

Attention is also being focused on Russia’s powerful intelligence services in the wake of the attack.

Just three days before, Putin had publicly dismissed Western warnings of an imminent attack in Moscow as a propaganda designed to scare Russian citizens.

On 7 March, the US embassy in Russia had issued a security alert saying it was “monitoring reports that extremists have imminent plans to target large gatherings in Moscow, to include concerts.”

Washington said it had directly warned Russian authorities about a “planned terrorist attack” possibly targeting “large gatherings” in Moscow.

The United States had “shared this information with Russian authorities”, National Security Council spokeswoman Adrienne Watson said.

But speaking to FSB chiefs last Tuesday, Putin said:

“Recent provocative statements by a number of official Westerns structures about the possibility of terrorist attacks in Russia … resembles outright blackmail and an intention to intimidate and destabilise our society.”

Earlier in March, the FSB said it had killed Islamic State militants who were planning an attack on a Moscow synagogue.

Over recent weeks the agency has announced on an almost daily basis the arrest of several pro-Ukrainian saboteurs it said were plotting attacks on Russian military infrastructure. 

With reporting from Cormac Fitzgerald