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26 Mar, 2024 12:16

Moscow attack terrorists were to be met as ‘heroes’ in Ukraine – FSB chief

The Ukrainian side may have been preparing to help the four gunmen cross the Russian border, Aleksandr Bortnikov says
Moscow attack terrorists were to be met as ‘heroes’ in Ukraine – FSB chief

The four gunmen responsible for Friday’s terrorist attack on the Crocus City music hall in Moscow were planning to escape to Ukraine before they were apprehended by Russian law enforcement, the head of Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) Aleksandr Bortnikov has said.

Speaking to Russian journalist Pavel Zarubin on Tuesday, the FSB chief said that it is currently believed that the four gunmen were being expected in Ukraine and that the Ukrainian side may have been preparing to open a “window” to allow them to cross the border.

Bortnikov admitted, however, that this version of events is still being examined and that it is too early to say if this information is fully accurate. Nevertheless, he stated that authorities are currently trying to establish all the people involved in the attack, both inside and outside of Russia.

Asked if those who ordered the attack had expected the gunmen to be killed during the attack and avoid being captured alive by Russian security services, Bortnikov stated that the fact that they were trying to escape suggests that there was a plan for them to survive the ordeal.

”I’ll reveal a little secret. On the other side they were to be welcomed as heroes,” Bortnikov said.

In other statements to the media on Tuesday, the FSB boss also said that, according to his service’s intel, Ukraine had been involved in training fighters in the Middle East.

On the evening of March 22, a group of gunmen armed with assault rifles attacked the Crocus City music hall in the Moscow suburb of Krasnogorsk, just before a concert by the rock band Picnic was due to start. The 7,500-capacity venue was almost full at the time of the attack. The terrorists killed guards, shot concert-goers on sight, then started a fire that quickly spread throughout the building.

At least 139 people, including three children, were killed in the attack, the chair of the Russian Investigative Committee, Aleksandr Bastrykin, reported on Monday, while health officials have said that over 150 were injured.

After the attack, Russian security services detained 11 people connected to the incident, including the gunmen who are believed to have carried out the attack.
Moscow’s Basmanny Court has since arrested the four main suspects as well as four other individuals who are accused of helping organize the terrorist attack.