Russia says 60 dead, 145 injured in concert hall raid; Islamic State group claims responsibility

MOSCOW — Assailants burst into a big live performance corridor in Moscow on Friday and sprayed the group with gunfire, killing over 60 individuals, injuring greater than 100 and setting hearth to the venue in a brazen assault simply days after President Vladimir Putin cemented his grip on energy in a extremely orchestrated electoral landslide.

The Islamic State group claimed duty for the assault in a press release posted on affiliated channels on social media. A U.S. intelligence official informed The Related Press that U.S. intelligence businesses had discovered the group’s department in Afghanistan was planning an assault in Moscow and shared the data with Russian officers.

It wasn’t instantly clear what occurred to the attackers after the raid, which state investigators had been investigating as terrorism.

The assault, which left the live performance corridor in flames with a collapsing roof, was the deadliest in Russia in years and got here because the nation’s battle in Ukraine dragged into a 3rd yr. Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin referred to as the raid a “big tragedy.”

The Kremlin mentioned Putin was knowledgeable minutes after the assailants burst into Crocus Metropolis Corridor, a big music venue on Moscow’s western edge that may accommodate 6,200 individuals.

The assault passed off as crowds gathered for a efficiency by the Russian rock band Picnic. The Investigative Committee, the highest state legal investigation company, reported early Saturday that greater than 60 individuals had been killed. Well being authorities launched an inventory of 145 injured — 115 of them hospitalized, together with 5 kids.

Some Russian information stories urged extra victims may have been trapped by the blaze that erupted after the assailants threw explosives.

Video confirmed the constructing on hearth, with an enormous cloud of smoke rising via the evening sky. The road was lit up by the blinking blue lights of dozens of firetrucks, ambulances and different emergency automobiles, as hearth helicopters buzzed overhead to dump water on the blaze that took hours to comprise.

The prosecutor’s workplace mentioned a number of males in fight fatigues entered the live performance corridor and fired on concertgoers.

Dave Primov, who was within the corridor through the assault, described panic and chaos when the assault started.

“There have been volleys of gunfire,” Primov informed the AP. “All of us obtained up and tried to maneuver towards the aisles. Folks started to panic, began to run and collided with one another. Some fell down and others trampled on them.”

Movies posted by Russian media and on messaging app channels confirmed males toting assault rifles taking pictures screaming individuals at point-blank vary. One video confirmed a person within the auditorium saying the assailants had set it on hearth, as gunshots rang out incessantly.

Guards on the live performance corridor didn’t have weapons, and a few may have been killed at first of the assault, Russian media reported. Some Russian information shops urged the assailants fled earlier than particular forces and riot police arrived. Studies mentioned police patrols had been in search of a number of automobiles the attackers may have used to flee.

In a press release posted by its Aamaq information company, the Islamic State group mentioned it attacked a big gathering of “Christians” in Krasnogorsk on Moscow’s outskirts, killing and wounding tons of. It was not instantly attainable to confirm the authenticity of the declare.

Nonetheless, U.S. intelligence officers confirmed the declare by the Islamic State group’s department primarily based in Afghanistan that it was accountable for the Moscow assault, a U.S. official informed the AP.

The official mentioned U.S. intelligence businesses had gathered data in latest weeks that the IS department was planning an assault in Moscow. He mentioned U.S. officers privately shared the intelligence earlier this month with Russian officers. The official was briefed on the matter however was not approved to publicly talk about the intelligence data and spoke to the AP on situation of anonymity.

Noting that the IS assertion solid its declare as an assault focusing on Christians, Aymenn Jawad al-Tamimi, an professional on the terrorist group, mentioned it appeared to mirror the group’s technique of “putting wherever they will as a part of a worldwide ‘combat the infidels and apostates all over the place.’”

In October 2015, a bomb planted by IS downed a Russian passenger airplane over Sinai, killing all 224 individuals on board, most of them Russian vacation-goers getting back from Egypt. The group, which operates primarily in Syria and Iraq but additionally in Afghanistan and Africa, additionally has claimed a number of assaults in Russia’s risky Caucasus and different areas previously years. It recruited fighters from Russia and different components of former Soviet Union.

On March 7, Russia’s high safety company mentioned it thwarted an assault on a synagogue in Moscow by an Islamic State cell, killing a number of of its members within the Kaluga area close to the Russian capital. A number of days earlier, Russian authorities mentioned six alleged IS members had been killed in a shootout in Ingushetia in Russia’s Caucasus area.

On Friday, statements of shock, shock and help for these affected by the live performance name assault streamed in from around the globe.

Some commentators on Russian social media questioned how authorities, who relentlessly surveil and stress Kremlin critics, didn’t determine the risk and stop the assault.

Russian officers mentioned safety was tightened at Moscow’s airports, railway stations and the capital’s sprawling subway system. Moscow’s mayor canceled all mass gatherings, and theaters and museums shut for the weekend. Different Russian areas additionally tightened safety.

The Kremlin didn’t instantly blame anybody for the assault, however some Russian lawmakers had been fast to accuse Ukraine and referred to as for ramping up strikes. Hours earlier than the assault, the Russian navy l aunched a sweeping barrage on Ukraine’s energy system, crippling the nation’s greatest hydroelectric plant and different power services and leaving greater than 1,000,000 individuals with out electrical energy.

Dmitry Medvedev, deputy head of Russia’s Safety Council, mentioned that if Ukraine involvement was confirmed, all these concerned “have to be tracked down and killed with out mercy, together with officers of the state that dedicated such outrage.”

Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, denied Ukraine involvement.

“Ukraine has by no means resorted to the usage of terrorist strategies,” he posted on X. “Every little thing on this battle will probably be determined solely on the battlefield.”

John Kirby, spokesman for the White Home Nationwide Safety Council, mentioned he couldn’t but communicate in regards to the particulars however “the photographs are simply horrible. And simply laborious to observe.”

Friday’s assault adopted a press release earlier this month by the U.S. Embassy in Moscow that urged People to keep away from crowded locations in view of “imminent” plans by extremists to focus on massive gatherings within the Russian capital, together with concert events. The warning was repeated by a number of different Western embassies.

Nationwide Safety Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson mentioned Friday the U.S. authorities had details about a deliberate assault in Moscow, prompting the State Division advisory to People. The U.S. authorities shared the data with Russian authorities in accordance with its longstanding “obligation to warn” coverage, Watson mentioned.

Putin, who prolonged his grip on Russia for one more six years on this week’s presidential vote after a sweeping crackdown on dissent, denounced the Western warnings as an try to intimidate Russians. “All that resembles open blackmail and an try to frighten and destabilize our society,” he mentioned earlier this week.

Russia was shaken by a sequence of lethal terror assaults within the early 2000s through the preventing with separatists within the Russian province of Chechnya.

In October 2002, Chechen militants took about 800 individuals hostage at a Moscow theater. Two days later, Russian particular forces stormed the constructing and 129 hostages and 41 Chechen fighters died, most from results of narcotic fuel Russian forces use to subdue the attackers.

In September 2004, about 30 Chechen militants seized a college in Beslan in southern Russia taking tons of of hostages. The siege resulted in a massacre two days later and greater than 330 individuals, about half of them kids, had been killed.


Affiliate Press author Michael Balsamo in Washington contributed to this report.


This story was up to date to appropriate that John Kirby is a spokesman for the White Home Nationwide Safety Council, not the White Home nationwide safety adviser.