Crocus City Hall: Gunmen kill at least 40 in Moscow concert venue, many trapped

Team India Sentinels Friday 22nd of March 2024 11:57 PM

This screenshot from an amateur video via social media shows the burning Corcus City Hall after the attack with ambulances on standby. 

New Delhi: Gunmen stormed Moscow’s Crocus City Hall and killed dozens of concertgoers at the music venue, on Friday evening, shocking Russia and the international community and leaving the country in grief. The assault, which also involved explosions, has left at least 40 people dead and around 150 injured, according to the latest figures from the Russian health ministry.

The toll is expected to rise as many of the dead and injured are still unaccounted for, with many still trapped inside the burning building when reports last came in. The Islamic State – Khorasan Province has reportedly claimed responsibility for the massacre on a Telegram post.

In its statement, the IS-K said: “Islamic State fighters attacked a large gathering of Christians in the city of Krasnogorsk on the outskirts of the Russian capital, Moscow, killing and wounding hundreds and causing great destruction to the place before they withdrew to their bases safely.”

Russian authorities have not reacted to this statement at the time of publication of this report.

According to eyewitness accounts on social media, the attackers, clad in combat fatigues and wielding automatic weapons, stormed the concert hall shortly after 8pm local time. They described scenes of panic and chaos as the gunmen opened fire on the unsuspecting crowd.

A fire, believed to be triggered by an explosion, also erupted within the venue, trapping dozens of people and further complicating rescue efforts.

According to local media reports, the Russian foreign ministry has labelled the incident a “terrorist attack”. They said a manhunt has been launched for the perpetrators who have yet to be apprehended. Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) said they have found an abandoned white van with an old Ukrainian number plate in the vicinity of the attack and are investigating it.

Meanwhile, authorities in Moscow have ordered the cancellation of all entertainment and mass events in the country.

The Crocus City Hall, which is at the western edge of Moscow, is known for being one of the largest shopping and entertainment complexes in Russia. It was hosting a sold-out concert by the Russian rock group Piknik when the attack took place. The band has since confirmed that they are alive and safe.

Speculations are doing rounds on social media regarding the context of the attack. While some analysts are suggesting a possible link to the ongoing war in Ukraine, others say it might be linked to Russia’s foreign policy, particularly its support for Palestinians facing genocide in Gaza.

Friday’s attack on the Crocus City Hall brought back memories of the October 2002 hostage crisis at the Dubrovka Theatre during a Nord-Ost play. It lasted for four days from October 23 to October 26 and ended when Russian special forces stormed the theatre after sedating everyone inside, including the Chechen hostage-takers, with a narcotic gas. According to official figures, 130 hostages and 40 Chechen militants were killed during that operation.

The full implications of Friday’s attack on both domestic security and international relations are yet to be seen, especially how Russia responds to this attack. The international community, including many western countries, has condemned the attack and called for justice for the victims and their families.

Note: This is a developing story. Details, such as figures and developments, are subject to change. The story will be updated with a fresh one later.

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