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22 Mar, 2024 22:38

Major terrorist attack at Moscow concert hall: What we know so far

Gunmen have killed and injured scores of people attending a concert near the Russian capital
Major terrorist attack at Moscow concert hall: What we know so far

Russia suffered one of the worst terrorist attacks in its modern history on Friday. At least 60 people were killed and scores injured by a group of gunmen who stormed a large music venue just outside of Moscow.

Details are still emerging, but it appears that the attack was well prepared and designed to maximize casualties. Here is what is known so far.

A packed venue

The terrorists struck at Crocus City Hall, a concert venue located in Krasnogorsk, a settlement on the western outskirts of the Russian capital. It is part of a larger entertainment complex opened in 2009, which also includes a shopping mall and hotel.

The concert hall holds up to 7,500 people and was almost packed when the terrorists launched their assault. The popular rock band Picnic was set to perform.

Shooting spree

According to footage circulating online, some five gunmen took part in the shooting. They appeared to be carrying automatic firearms and had other military gear.

They reportedly killed the security guards – who were unarmed – at the main entrance to the venue, and blocked it before continuing their rampage inside.

Large blaze follows

Once the terrorists reached the concert hall, they reportedly set chairs inside on fire. The blaze spread across the building and reached the roof before firefighters could start combating it. Helicopters were seen pouring large quantities of water on the building following the attack.

Dozens killed

Russia’s Investigative Committee has said at least 60 people were killed in the attack, and warned that “the number of victims might increase.”

Three children have died following the mass shooting at Crocus City Hall, according to hospital data posted on the Moscow Region’s Health Ministry website.

A list of the wounded released by the ministry has more than 140 entries, some of whom are yet to be identified. Dozens of the injured are said to be in serious condition.

At least 70 ambulances were dispatched to the scene on Friday night, according to officials.

Fate of the perpetrators

Russian law enforcement did not report any arrests in the wake of the shooting. Commando units were dispatched to the scene, but it was not immediately clear whether they confronted the gunmen inside.

Unconfirmed media reports said that several Crocus employees had been detained.

Identity of the terrorists

No terrorist group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack.

Senior Ukrainian official Mikhail Podoliak posted a video statement on social media shortly after the news broke. The aide to President Vladimir Zelensky distanced the Ukrainian government from the tragedy, claiming that Kiev does not resort to terrorism in its fight against Russia.

Reactions from abroad

International organizations and foreign governments, including those that Russia considers unfriendly, have condemned the terrorist attack.

White House White House National Security Communications Adviser John Kirby, who was giving a daily briefing shortly after the incident, called the images from the scene “hard to watch,” adding: “Our thoughts obviously are going to be with the victims of this terrible, terrible shooting attack.”

Security alerts in March

Earlier this month, the US issued a warning to its citizens in Russia, urging them to avoid public places and mass gatherings. The embassy claimed that “extremists” had imminent plans for an attack in Moscow. Several other embassies followed suit, issuing similar alerts.

Kirby stressed that Washington had “no advanced knowledge” of Friday’s shooting.