Moscow Mourns: Tragic Concert Hall Attack Claims 137 Lives, Sparks Nationwide Grief and International Concern

Russia is observing a day of mourning following a tragic incident that claimed the lives of at least 137 individuals during a crowded concert at Moscow’s Crocus City Hall on Friday evening. Flags across the nation fly at half-mast, numerous events have been canceled, and TV schedules have been adjusted in light of the somber occasion.

The assault, perpetrated by gunmen who entered the venue, resulted in more than 140 people sustaining injuries as they fired indiscriminately before setting the hall ablaze. The Islamic State (IS) group has claimed responsibility for the attack, with Amaq, the IS media outlet, posting an image purportedly depicting the four masked assailants involved. However, Russian authorities have not officially commented on IS’s assertion.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has declared that all four perpetrators have been apprehended. Images released by Russia’s Investigative Committee showed the detainees being escorted into a building, restrained and blindfolded. President Putin condemned the massacre as a “barbaric terrorist act,” echoing earlier statements by Russian security services that the assailants may have attempted to flee to Ukraine.

However, Ukraine swiftly dismissed any involvement, labeling such claims as “absurd.” Andriy Yusov, a spokesperson for the Ukrainian military intelligence directorate, refuted suggestions of a link to Ukraine, stating that such a notion would imply the attackers were either “stupid or suicidal.” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky accused Putin of attempting to shift blame onto Ukraine, criticizing his silence in addressing the Russian populace in the aftermath of the tragedy.

BBC Verify has corroborated details of two of the alleged attackers seen in the IS video with images of the arrested suspects circulating on pro-Kremlin Telegram channels. The US National Security Council revealed it had previously alerted Russia to a potential IS threat targeting “large gatherings,” including concerts, in Moscow. The Kremlin dismissed this warning as “propaganda” and an attempt by the US to interfere in Russian affairs.

The White House condemned the attack, describing IS as a “common terrorist enemy” that must be defeated globally. Reports of the assault inside Crocus City Hall emerged around 20:00 local time on Friday, as thousands gathered for a rock concert by veteran band Picnic. Videos posted online captured the chaos as gunmen opened fire, prompting panic among attendees who sought refuge wherever possible.

Eyewitness accounts described the assailants methodically targeting individuals, with some concertgoers attempting to escape to the basement or roof. Anastasia Rodionova, who attended the concert, recalled the terrifying scene of gunmen gunning down victims in silence. Vitaly, another witness, observed the attackers throwing petrol bombs before chaos ensued.

Outside the hall, smoke billowed into the sky as flames engulfed the roof and facade. Reports indicated explosions that shattered glass on the building’s upper floors. Special forces units swiftly responded, storming the venue as medical personnel and numerous ambulances rushed to the scene. Helicopters circled overhead, aiding efforts to extinguish the fire.

The Russian Investigative Committee confirmed that the attackers used flammable liquid to ignite portions of the concert hall. They attributed the victims’ deaths to gunshot wounds and poisoning from smoke inhalation. On Saturday, a makeshift memorial emerged outside the venue, where mourners lit candles and laid flowers. Across Moscow and other cities, electronic billboards displayed a single burning candle alongside the word “Skorbim” – “we mourn.”

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