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Unprecedented Tragedy in Moscow: Gunmen Attack Concert Hall, Over 60 Dead

Traffic on the highway is visible near the Crocus City Hall with a warning message on a billboard that reads "we mourn 03.22.2024" on the western edge of Moscow, Russia, Friday, March 22, 2024. Several gunmen have burst into a big concert hall in Moscow and fired automatic weapons at the crowd, injuring an unspecified number of people and setting a massive blaze in an apparent terror attack days after President Vladimir Putin cemented his grip on the country in a highly orchestrated electoral landslide. (AP Photo/Vitaly Smolnikov)

Gunmen stormed into a bustling concert hall in Moscow on Friday, unleashing a hail of gunfire into the crowd. The brutal assault resulted in the tragic loss of over 60 lives, with more than 100 individuals sustaining injuries. The attackers further exacerbated the horror by setting fire to the venue, marking a brazen act of violence mere days following President Vladimir Putin’s consolidation of power through a meticulously orchestrated electoral victory.

The Islamic State group swiftly claimed responsibility for the heinous act through a statement disseminated on affiliated social media channels. Informed by U.S. intelligence agencies, it was revealed that the group’s branch in Afghanistan had plotted the attack on Moscow, with pertinent information shared with Russian authorities.

The fate of the assailants remained shrouded in uncertainty following the rampage, which authorities are treating as an act of terrorism. The devastating assault, resulting in the concert hall engulfed in flames and its roof collapsing, stands as one of the deadliest incidents in Russia in recent memory. This tragedy unfolds against the backdrop of Russia’s protracted conflict in Ukraine, now entering its third year.

Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin lamented the incident as a “massive tragedy,” underscoring the profound impact on the city. The Kremlin swiftly confirmed that Putin was briefed mere minutes after the assailants stormed Crocus City Hall, a prominent music venue situated on the western outskirts of Moscow, capable of accommodating up to 6,200 attendees.

The assault occurred amidst a gathering for a performance by the Russian rock band Picnic. The Investigative Committee, Russia’s foremost state criminal investigation agency, reported on Saturday that the death toll had risen to over 60 individuals. Health authorities released a roster of 145 injured individuals, with 115 of them admitted to hospitals, including five children.

Deaths and injuries reported after Russia concert hall attack : NPR


Initial accounts from Russian news outlets suggested that additional victims may have been ensnared by the inferno ignited by explosives hurled by the assailants.

Videos depicted the engulfed building, its silhouette against the night sky obscured by billowing smoke. The street below was illuminated by the flashing blue lights of numerous firetrucks, ambulances, and emergency vehicles. Fire helicopters circled above, dousing the conflagration with water, a battle that persisted for hours before containment.

According to the prosecutor’s office, several men clad in combat attire forcibly entered the concert hall and indiscriminately opened fire on attendees.

Dave Primov, present at the scene during the attack, recounted the pandemonium and confusion that ensued as the assault unfolded.

Primov recounted the harrowing scene to the AP, describing “volleys of gunfire” that prompted chaos and panic among attendees. He detailed how people scrambled towards the aisles, with some falling and being trampled as others attempted to flee.

Videos circulating on Russian media and messaging apps depicted armed men wielding assault rifles, firing upon terrified individuals at close range. In one particularly chilling footage, gunshots echoed amidst screams while a man within the auditorium reported the assailants setting the venue ablaze.

Reports emerged suggesting that the guards at the concert hall were unarmed, leaving them vulnerable to the initial onslaught. Some media outlets speculated that the attackers fled the scene before the arrival of special forces and riot police. Law enforcement patrols were reportedly scouring the area for several vehicles believed to have been used by the assailants to escape.

The Islamic State group, in a statement released through its Aamaq news agency, claimed responsibility for the attack, alleging it targeted a large gathering of “Christians” in Krasnogorsk on the outskirts of Moscow, resulting in numerous casualties. While the authenticity of the claim could not be immediately verified, U.S. intelligence officials confirmed the involvement of the Islamic State group’s Afghan-based branch in orchestrating the assault on Moscow.

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