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Russia arrests suspected gunmen as concert toll soars to 143

Courtesy: Geo News/Reuters

  • Arrested suspects include four terrorists, says Kremlin.
  • Daesh claims responsibility for attack in Moscow’s outskirts.
  • Attack deadliest in Russia since Beslan school siege in 2004.

The Kremlin said Saturday that it has arrested 11 people — including four suspected gunmen — in connection with a shooting rampage that killed at least 143 people in a concert hall near Moscow.

Reuters reported tha militant group Daesh claimed responsibility for Friday’s attack, the deadliest in Russia for 20 years. But there were indications that Russia was pursuing a Ukrainian link, despite a statement from Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak that Kyiv had nothing to do with it.

A statement issued by Kremlin, on Saturday, stated that President Vladimir Putin was apprised by FSB security service chief Alexander Bortnikov that the suspects, among the detained, included “four terrorists”.

It further mentioned that the service was working to identify their accomplices.

Russia’s Investigative Committee said the death toll had leapt to 115 from the attack on Crocus City Hall, located in the outskirts of the Russian capital, in which camouflage-clad gunmen opened fire with automatic weapons at concertgoers near the capital on Friday.

Russian lawmaker Alexander Khinshtein said the attackers had fled in a Renault vehicle that was spotted by police in Bryansk region, about 340 km (210 miles) southwest of Moscow on Friday night and disobeyed instructions to stop.

He said two were arrested after a car chase and two others fled into a forest. From the Kremlin account, it appeared they too were later detained.

Khinshtein said a pistol, a magazine for an assault rifle, and passports from Tajikistan were found in the car. Tajikistan is a mainly Muslim Central Asian state that used to be part of the Soviet Union.

Daesh has claimed responsibility for the attack, the deadliest in Russia since the Beslan school siege in 2004.

The shooting took place on Friday evening at Crocus City Hall, a concert venue just west of Moscow where a Soviet-era rock band was due to perform.

Verified video showed people taking their seats in the hall, then rushing for the exits as repeated gunfire echoed above screams. Other video showed men shooting at groups of people. Some victims lay motionless in pools of blood.

“Suddenly there were bangs behind us – shots. A burst of firing – I do not know what,” one witness, who asked not to be identified by name, told Reuters.

“A stampede began. Everyone ran to the escalator,” the witness said. “Everyone was screaming; everyone was running.”

1- Header image: People lay flowers at a makeshift memorial to the victims of a shooting attack at the Crocus City Hall concert venue in the Moscow Region, Russia, March 23, 2024. — Reuters

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