Moscow Crocus City Hall attack: Death toll reaches 133, Vladimir Putin suggests Ukraine hand behind ‘barbaric act of terrorism’

Team India Sentinels Saturday 23rd of March 2024 06:07 PM

The burning Crocus City Hall building following the terror attack. (Photo via Facebook)

New Delhi: The death toll in the terror attack on concertgoers in Moscow’s Crocus City Hall, on Friday, has reached 133 with nearly 200 people receiving treatment at various degrees, according to the latest Russian official statement. The death toll is likely to rise as many of those receiving treatment for their injuries are in critical condition.

This marks as one of the deadliest assaults in recent Russian history.

The Russian president, Vladimir Putin, has addressed the nation, describing the attack as a “barbaric act of terrorism”. Declaring Sunday to be a day of national mourning, the Russian president assured his country that the perpetrators will be brought to justice.

Putin also suggested that the attackers had been attempting to flee to Ukraine, a claim that Kyiv has been vehemently denied.

Russian authorities have reported that all four attackers involved in the deadly onslaught on the concertgoers have been detained. The Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) has arrested a total of 11 suspects, four of whom are believed to be directly involved in the attack.

The FSB claims that the suspects were apprehended while heading towards the Ukrainian border, allegedly with contacts on the Ukrainian side. The agency also said the attack was carefully planned and designed to maximize casualties.

Russian television channels broadcasted videos that purportedly showed the detention and interrogation of the suspects, including one who was seen saying he was approached by an unidentified assistant to an Islamic preacher via a messaging app channel and paid to take part in the raid. Meanwhile, other local news outlets reported the perpetrators as Tajikistan citizens.

Tajikistan was a Soviet republic before the collapse of the Soviet Union. It is now an independent predominantly Muslim country in Central Asia that shares its borders with Afghanistan. There are tens of thousands of Tajiks in Russia, many with long-term work permits.

As India Sentinels had reported earlier, the Islamic State-Khorasan Province or ISIS-K has claimed responsibility for the attack. The group is active in Afghanistan and Central Asia. However, this claim has not been independently verified. United States officials who announced this on Friday to some reporters said they are yet to make a “final assessment” regarding the perpetrators.

The Russian Investigative Committee has also released images of ammunition and weapons believed to have been used in the attack. They said CCTV footage, ballistic, genetic, and fingerprint examinations are underway to gather more evidence.

The investigation is still in its early stages, and several key questions remain unanswered. Officials are also seeking to determine how the gunmen managed to infiltrate the concert hall with weapons and explosives, raising concerns about security vulnerabilities.

In the wake of the attack, Russian officials have made several statements. Dmitry Medvedev, a senior security official and former president, has called for the execution of the gunmen. He said, “All of them must be found and ruthlessly destroyed as terrorists. Death for death.”

As reported earlier, Russian authorities have cancelled public events nationwide, and security measures have been heightened across the country, including at airports and railway stations. As the country mourns, messages of condolence and solidarity have poured in from around the globe. In Russia, people have been queuing en masse to donate blood to assist the wounded.

Many geopolitical commentators and observers expressed concerns on social media that this incident may have far-reaching implications, both within Russia and on the global stage, especially when geostrategic balances are shifting owing to the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war and Israel’s genocidal campaign against the Palestinians in Gaza.

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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