Moscow | Attack claimed by IS leaves at least 40 dead, 115 injured

(Krasnogorsk) At least 40 people were killed and 115 injured Friday evening in an armed attack followed by a huge fire in a concert hall on the outskirts of Moscow, which was claimed by the jihadist group Islamic State (IS).




Russian law enforcement officials said they were “searching” for the attackers. They did not specify whether suspects were still in the building at 4 p.m. (Eastern time), while an investigation into a “terrorist act” was opened.

The Islamic State group, which has already targeted Russia on several occasions, claimed on one of its Telegram accounts that its fighters “attacked a large gathering (…) in the vicinity of the Russian capital Moscow”.

The jihadist organization claimed that its commando had then “returned to its base in complete safety”.

The spokesperson for Russian diplomacy, Maria Zakharova, had previously denounced a “bloody terrorist attack” and a “monstrous crime”. Ukraine quickly denied any responsibility, even blaming the Russian secret services.

According to Health Minister Mikhail Mourashko, 115 people are hospitalized, including five children. Sixty adults and one minor among these injured are in serious condition.

The assault, which Russian media began reporting around 8:15 p.m. in Moscow (11:30 a.m. Eastern Time), was carried out by several armed individuals at Crocus City Hall, a concert hall in Krasnogorsk, just at the northwest exit of the Russian capital.

PHOTO DMITRY SEREBRYAKOV, ASSOCIATED PRESS

The attack by several armed individuals took place in the evening at Crocus City Hall, a concert hall located in Krasnogorsk, a suburb just outside the northwest of the Russian capital.

AFP journalists saw the building engulfed in a large fire, plumes of black smoke escaping from the roof, as well as a very large presence of police and emergency services, whose blue flashing lights illuminated by dozens at night.

According to Russian television, the roof of the building partly collapsed.

No information was given as to the number of people potentially trapped inside.

“Just before the start, we suddenly heard several machine gun bursts and a terrible woman’s scream. Then a lot of screaming,” Alexeï, a music producer who was in the dressing room at the time of the attack, told AFP.

He said he saw “terrible crowd movements” of spectators wanting to escape.

Armed men

According to a journalist from the state news agency Ria Novosti, individuals in camouflage clothing burst into the concert hall before opening fire and throwing “a grenade or an incendiary bomb, which caused a fire “.

PHOTO MOSCOW NEWS AGENCY, PROVIDED TO REUTERS

Law enforcement officers are on site.

“The people in the room lay on the ground to protect themselves from the gunfire for 15 to 20 minutes, after which they started crawling out. Many managed to get out,” said this Ria Novosti journalist.

The flames spread to nearly 13,000 m2 of the building before the fire was contained, according to emergency services, but around 1 a.m. Saturday (7 p.m. Eastern Friday) the fire was still raging, according to the Ministry of Emergency Situations which used water bombing helicopters to fight against the disaster.

Vladimir Putin is “constantly” informed and was “from the first minutes” of the attack, said his spokesperson Dmitri Peskov. At 1:30 a.m. from Moscow, the Russian president had not yet spoken.

The Telegram news channels Baza and Mash, known to be close to the police, published videos showing at least two armed men advancing in the hall and others in which we can see corpses and groups of people rushing towards the exit.

PHOTO MAXIM SHEMETOV, REUTERS

The building is engulfed in a massive fire.

Other images show spectators hiding behind seats or evacuating the concert hall.

According to the Russian Emergency Situations Ministry, firefighters managed to evacuate around a hundred people who were in the basement of the room. Operations are underway to “rescue people from the roof of the building using lifting equipment”.

Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin announced the cancellation of all public events this weekend. The capital’s main museums and theaters have announced their closure.

Reinforced security measures have been put in place according to Russian television, particularly at airports.

This attack occurred during a concert by Russian rock band Piknik.

“Heinous acts”

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres “condemns in the strongest possible terms the terrorist attack,” his deputy spokesperson said. The White House said it was “in thoughts with the victims of the terrible attack”. France and Italy denounced “heinous acts”, the EU and Spain said they were “shocked”. Many other countries condemned the attack.

An adviser to the Ukrainian presidency, Mykhaïlo Podoliak, affirmed that Ukraine, which has been facing a Russian military offensive for two years, “has absolutely nothing to do” with the shooting.

A unit of Russian anti-Kremlin fighters behind several armed incursions on the Russian border in recent months, the Russian Freedom Legion, has also denied any involvement.

Ukrainian military intelligence accused “Russian special services” of being behind the attack in Moscow in order to “accuse Ukraine and provoke” escalation “and” expand “its assault against his neighbor.

Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev assured that Moscow would kill Ukrainian leaders if it turned out that they were involved in this attack.

The US Embassy in Russia warned its citizens two weeks ago that it was “closely monitoring reports that extremists have imminent plans to target large gatherings in Moscow, including concerts.”

“If the United States has or had reliable data on this matter, it must immediately transmit it to the Russian side,” Maria Zakharova said.

Russia has been the target of numerous attacks in the past by Islamist groups.


reference: www.lapresse.ca

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