Russia concert attack | 11 arrested in attack claimed by Islamic State

The death toll from the attack has risen to 133, Russia’s Investigative Committee said

Updated - March 23, 2024 08:10 pm IST

Published - March 23, 2024 02:05 pm IST - Moscow

A view of the Crocus City Hall burned after a terrorist attack is seen on the western edge of Moscow on March 23, 2024.

A view of the Crocus City Hall burned after a terrorist attack is seen on the western edge of Moscow on March 23, 2024. | Photo Credit: AP

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Saturday that authorities have detained 11 people in the attack on a suburban Moscow concert hall that killed at least 133 people and left the sprawling venue a smoldering ruin.

In an address to the nation, Mr. Putin called it “a bloody, barbaric terrorist act” and said all four people who were directly involved had been taken into custody. He suggested they had been trying to cross the border into Ukraine which, he said, tried to create a “window” to help them escape.

Ukraine has strongly denied any involvement in the attack. Mr. Putin said on Saturday that additional security measures have been imposed throughout the country and declared March 24 a day of national mourning.

The Islamic State group’s Afghanistan branch claimed responsibility for Friday’s attack in a statement posted on affiliated channels on social media. A U.S. intelligence official told The Associated Press that U.S. agencies had confirmed that the group was responsible for the attack.

The attack, which was the deadliest in Russia in years, came just days after Mr. Putin cemented his grip on power in a highly orchestrated electoral landslide and as the country’s war in Ukraine dragged into a third year.

Some Russian lawmakers pointed the finger at Ukraine immediately after the attack. But Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, denied any involvement.

“Ukraine has never resorted to the use of terrorist methods,” he posted on X. “Everything in this war will be decided only on the battlefield.”

Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry also denied that the country had any involvement and accused Moscow of using the attack to try to stoke fervour for its war efforts.

“We consider such accusations to be a planned provocation by the Kremlin to further fuel anti-Ukrainian hysteria in Russian society, create conditions for increased mobilisation of Russian citizens to participate in the criminal aggression against our country and discredit Ukraine in the eyes of the international community,” the Ministry said in a statement.

Images shared by Russian state media on Saturday showed a fleet of emergency vehicles still gathered outside the ruins of Crocus City Hall, which had a maximum capacity of more than 6,000 people.

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