40 Killed, 100 Injured in Attack at Russian Concert Hall
40 Killed, 100 Injured in Attack at Russian Concert Hall

By Andrew Thornebrook

More than 40 people are dead and 100 wounded following a terror attack in Russia. Several attackers opened fire in a crowded concert hall in Moscow on Friday and triggered an unknown number of explosives.

The ISIS terrorist group has claimed responsibility for the attack.

Russian security services are still responding to the incident and have reported multiple deaths.

Russia’s foreign ministry described the rampage as a “bloody terrorist attack”.

“The entire world community is obliged to condemn this monstrous crime,” Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said. “All efforts are being thrown at saving people.”

A massive blaze is seen over the Crocus City Hall on the western edge of Moscow, Russia, on March 22, 2024. (Sergei Vedyashkin/Moscow News Agency via AP)

Russian State media TASS reported that the Federal Security Service acknowledged dead and wounded in what is being described as a terror attack. The attack comes just days after Russian President Vladimir Putin was reelected to another six-year term in an election condemned by many as rigged.

Putin has not yet made a public statement about the attack.

Russia’s top investigative agency is investigating the shootings, explosions, and fire at a Moscow concert hall as a terrorist attack. The Investigative Committee said it has opened a criminal probe into the charges, though it didn’t say who might be behind the attack. Riot police and about 70 ambulance crews have been sent to the scene.

In 2004, about 30 Chechen militants seized a school in Beslan in southern Russia and took hundreds of hostages. The siege ended in a bloodbath two days later and more than 330 people, about half of them children, were killed.

Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin described the attack as a “huge tragedy.”

Russian news reports said that the attackers were dressed in military-style fatigues and threw explosives, triggering a massive blaze at the Crocus City Hall on the western edge of Moscow. Video posted on social media showed huge plumes of black smoke rising over the building. Some reports claim that gunmen have barricaded themselves in the building.

Russian authorities said security was tightened at Moscow’s airports and railway stations, while the Moscow mayor cancelled all mass gatherings scheduled for the weekend.

White House national security adviser John Kirby told reporters Friday that he couldn’t yet speak about all the details but that “the images are just horrible, and just hard to watch.”

“Our thoughts are going to be with the victims of this terrible, terrible shooting attack,” Mr. Kirby said. “There are some moms and dads and brothers and sisters and sons and daughters who haven’t gotten the news yet. This is going to be a tough day.”

The attack followed a statement issued earlier this month by the U.S. Embassy in Moscow that urged the Americans to avoid crowded places in the Russian capital in view of “imminent” plans by extremists to target large gatherings in Moscow, including concerts. The warning was repeated by several other Western embassies.

Asked about the embassy’s notice issued on March 7, Kirby referred the question to the State Department, adding: “I don’t think that was related to this specific attack.”

Responding to a question about whether Washington had any prior information about the assault, Kirby responded: “I’m not aware of any advance knowledge that we had of this terrible attack.”

The attack took place as crowds filled the venue to see the Russian rock band Picnic. Crocus City Hall can accommodate more than 6,000 people. It is unclear if there are still survivors trapped in the building, which is currently ablaze. All the tickets in the 6,200-seat concert hall had been sold out.

Russian media reports said that riot police units were being sent to the area as people were being evacuated.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this story.

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