Gunmen who raided Moscow concert hall tried to escape to Ukraine, says President Vladimir Putin : The Tribune India

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Gunmen who raided Moscow concert hall tried to escape to Ukraine, says President Vladimir Putin

Kyiv denies involvement

Gunmen who raided Moscow concert hall tried to escape to Ukraine, says President Vladimir Putin

A massive blaze is seen over the Crocus City Hall on the western edge of Moscow in Russia. Several gunmen burst into a big concert hall in Moscow and fired automatic weapons at the crowd, setting a massive blaze. AP/PTI


Moscow, March 24

The suburban Moscow music hall where gunmen opened fire on concertgoers was a blackened, smouldering ruin on Saturday as the death toll in the attack surpassed 130 and Russian authorities arrested four suspects.

President Vladimir Putin claimed they were captured while fleeing to Ukraine.

Kyiv strongly denied any involvement in Friday’s assault on the Crocus City Hall music venue in Krasnogorsk, and the Islamic State group’s Afghanistan affiliate claimed responsibility.

Putin did not mention IS in his speech to the nation, and Kyiv accused him and other Russian politicians of falsely linking Ukraine to the assault to stoke fervour for Russia’s war in Ukraine, which recently entered its third year.

The US intelligence officials confirmed the claim by the IS affiliate.

“ISIS bears sole responsibility for this attack. There was no Ukrainian involvement whatsoever,” National Security Council spokeswoman Adrienne Watson said in a statement.

The US shared information with Russia in early March about a planned terrorist attack in Moscow and issued a public warning to Americans in Russia, Watson said.

Putin said authorities detained a total of 11 people in the attack, which also wounded more than 100. He called it “a bloody, barbaric terrorist act” and said Russian authorities captured the four suspects as they were trying to escape to Ukraine through a “window” prepared for them on the Ukrainian side of the border.

Russian media broadcast videos that apparently showed the detention and interrogation of the suspects, including one who told the cameras he was approached by an unidentified assistant to an Islamic preacher via a messaging app and paid to take part in the raid.

Russian news reports identified the gunmen as citizens of Tajikistan, a former Soviet republic in Central Asia that is predominantly Muslim and borders Afghanistan. Up to 1.5 million Tajiks have worked in Russia and many have Russian citizenship.

Tajikistan’s foreign ministry, which denied initial Russian media reports that mentioned several other Tajiks allegedly involved in the raid, did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the arrests.

Many Russian hard-liners called for a crackdown on Tajik migrants, but Putin appeared to reject the idea, saying “no force will be able to sow the poisonous seeds of discord, panic or disunity in our multi-ethnic society”.

He declared on Sunday a day of mourning and said additional security measures were imposed throughout Russia.

The number of dead stood at 133, making the attack the deadliest in Russia in years. Authorities said the toll could still rise.

#Russia #Ukraine #Vladimir Putin


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