Death toll from terrorist attacks in Moscow rises, suspects arrested

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The death toll from Friday's terrorist attack on a Moscow concert rose to at least 133, Russia's top investigative agency said Saturday, with authorities saying they had apprehended 11 suspects, four of whom were directly involved in the attack.

President Putin addressed the shocked nation in a television broadcast on Saturday, calling the massacre a “bloody and barbaric act of terrorism.” He declared Sunday March 24 a day of mourning.

Putin said additional security measures had been put in place across the country following the attack – the deadliest in more than 20 years.

“The four direct perpetrators of the terrorist attack, all those who shot and killed people, were found and detained,” Putin said. “They tried to hide and headed towards Ukraine, where, according to preliminary data, a window was prepared for them from the Ukrainian side to cross the state border.”

Exterior of Moscow concert hall following terrorist attack

View of damage to the Crocus City Hall concert hall near Moscow, Russia, after a fire was extinguished following an attack by a gunman that claimed the lives of at least 115 people. (Sefa Karacan/Anadolu via Getty Images)


The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) claimed responsibility for the deadly attack in a statement posted on its affiliated social media channels, and the United States said it had intelligence confirming it, according to multiple media reports. The Russian Investigative Committee announced that it had opened a criminal investigation into this attack.

However, Putin suggested there could be a link between Ukraine and the bloodbath. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has denied any involvement by his country.

The surprise attack began when gunmen in combat gear burst into Crocus Town Hall in the city of Krasnogorsk, where spectators were gathering to hear the Russian band Picnic. An online video shows gunmen opening fire, shooting at participants at point-blank range and setting off smoke bombs.

The gunmen also threw explosives inside the concert hall during the attack, shaking the building and setting it on fire, Russian media reported. People were being evacuated, but some remained trapped inside the burning building, Russian media said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin delivers a speech

Russian President Vladimir Putin delivers his address to the nation in Moscow on March 23, 2024. (Mikhail Metzel/Pool/AFP via Getty Images))

The theater's roof collapsed early Saturday morning as firefighters spent hours battling the flames. Russians laid flowers at memorials and lined up to donate blood.

Putin said Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB) and other law enforcement agencies were working to identify the entire support base for terrorism.

“Those who provided them with transportation planned exit routes from the crime scene, prepared caches, caches of weapons and ammunition,” Putin said.

“It is already obvious that we are facing not only a carefully and cynically planned terrorist attack, but also an organized massacre of peaceful and defenseless people. The criminals were in cold blood and deliberately wanted to kill, shoot at our citizens at point – blank range – our children.

The FSB said the attack was carefully planned.

“The weapons used by the terrorists had previously been placed in a cache,” noted the FSB.

The FSB had blamed Ukraine, with the Russian Investigative Committee saying four suspects had been arrested in the Bryansk region in western Russia, “not far from the border with Ukraine”.

Weapon on the ground after Moscow terrorist attack

A screenshot from the Russian Investigative Committee shows a gun on the ground. (Investigative Committee of Russia / Handout/Anadolu via Getty Images)


They planned to cross the border with Ukraine and “had contacts there”, the official Tass news agency said, citing the Russian FSB.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy denied any Ukrainian involvement before ISIS claimed responsibility.

“Ukraine certainly has nothing to do with the shooting/explosions at the Crocus City Hall (Moscow region, Russia). It makes no sense,” he said on the networks social, adding in particular that “there is not the slightest doubt that “The events in the suburbs of Moscow will contribute to a sharp increase in military propaganda, accelerated militarization, expanded mobilization and, ultimately , to the intensification of the war. And also to justify blatant genocidal strikes against the civilian population of Ukraine.”

The attack came just days after Russian President Vladimir Putin consolidated his grip on power in another electoral landslide. The attack was the deadliest in Russia in years and took place as the conflict in Ukraine entered its third year.

Concert hall on fire

A massive fire is seen above the Crocus City Hall, west of Moscow, Russia, March 22, 2024. Several gunmen broke into a large concert hall in Moscow and shot at the automatic weapon on the crowd.


Putin wished all the injured a speedy recovery and congratulated the medical staff, Deputy Prime Minister Tatiana Golikova said.

“We, together with [Russian Health Minister] Mikhail A. [Murashko] reported to the President on the health status of the patients, the President wished everyone a recovery and conveyed his compliments to the doctors,” she told reporters.

Russian special services are still conducting search operations. Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin canceled all mass events in the capital over the next two days, and several other Russian regions followed suit.

Brie Stimson of Fox News and the Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.


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