At least 60 dead and 100 injured in mass shooting outside Moscow

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A group of gunmen opened fire at a concert hall in a Moscow suburb on Friday night. murder at least 60 people and hurting Another 145, Russian authorities said, marking one of the deadliest such attacks in Russia in recent years.

A video shared online showed at least two masked men. entering Crocus City Hall, and one of them repeatedly fired what appeared to be an assault rifle. Another graphic video showed four men, at least three of them armed, chasing a group of people and shooting them at point-blank range.

According to a journalist who was at Crocus City Hall during the time of the attack, after the shooting broke out a grenade or incendiary bomb was thrown, causing a fire.

Images published The state news agency TASS showed a large fire in the Crocus town hall, located about 16 kilometers northwest of central Moscow.

Later Friday, the Islamic State group reclaimed responsibility for the attack, according to a publication on his Telegram channel.

Among those killed in the attack were three children, according to the Moscow Region Health Ministry. saying Saturday morning.

Shortly after the first news about the shooting, the governor of the Moscow region, Andrei Vorobyov, saying had arrived at the scene and was leading response efforts to the incident.

More than 70 ambulance teams worked near the Crocus Town Hall and doctors helped the injured, Vorobyov saying.

Riot police and Spetznaz units were sent in response to the incident, the TASS agency reports. reportedwhile a video later shared by the media presented Law enforcement officers surrounding the concert hall.

The Russian Interior Minister, Vladimir Kolokoltsev, also arrived at the scene, the state agency RIA Novosti reported. reported.

A video published by the independent news outlet Sotavisión. presented Riot police shouted and pointed their guns at journalists and cameramen who were trying to cover the events outside the concert hall, physically pushing them out of the area.

“The people who were in the room remained lying on the floor to escape the shooting for between 15 and 20 minutes, after which they began to crawl out. Many managed to get out,” the anonymous journalist reported. aforementioned as RIA Novosti says.

About 100 people escaped through the theater’s basement, while others took shelter on the roof, the Ministry of Emergency Services said on its Telegram channel.

According to one report, up to 6,200 people may have been inside the concert hall at the time of the attack. seating plan of the venue.

Members of Piknik, the band that performed at Crocus City Hall on Friday night, were not injured, according to the concert director. saying.

Three helicopters were involved in efforts to put out the fire, dropping water on the gigantic concert hall that can hold several thousand people and has hosted top international artists.

Shortly after midnight, the Emergency Ministry said the fire had been contained. Governor Vorobyov later said that the flames had been “mostly extinguished” and that rescuers had been able to enter the auditorium.

The Russian Investigative Committee, which investigates serious crimes, announced that Opened a criminal case of terrorism in the incident.

President Putin, who was informed of the attack “in the first minutes,” according to the Kremlin, wished a speedy recovery to the injured victims, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova was quoted as saying by Russian news agencies.

Putin has not commented publicly on the attack.

Meanwhile, the mayor of Moscow Sergei Sobyanin saying had given orders to provide assistance to those affected by the shooting on Friday night.

“Today a terrible tragedy occurred in the Crocus City shopping center. My deepest condolences to the loved ones of the victims,” ​​he said, later adding that all public events in the Russian capital had been cancelled for the weekend.

Long lines formed of people wishing to donate blood to those injured in the attack. seen at a Moscow clinic on Saturday morning.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said it was a “bloody terrorist attack.”

“The entire international community must condemn this hateful crime,” he said on Telegram.

The US presidency called the attack “terrible” and said there were no immediate signs of any link to the conflict in Ukraine.

Ukraine’s presidency said kyiv had “nothing to do” with the attack, while its military intelligence called the incident a Russian “provocation” and accused Moscow’s special services of being behind the attack.

Russia’s Freedom Legion, a pro-Ukrainian militia responsible for attacks in Russia’s border regions, also denied any role.

Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev vowed on Telegram that top Ukrainian officials “must be found and mercilessly destroyed as terrorists” if they were linked to the attack.

The United Nations, the European Union, France, Spain, Italy and several other countries also condemned the attack.

The White House said its “thoughts are with the victims of this terrible attack,” while French President Emmanuel Macron also expressed “solidarity with the victims, their loved ones and all the Russian people.”

The head of the Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill, was “praying for peace for the souls of the dead,” his spokesman Vladimir Legoyda said.

Previous warnings

Moscow and other Russian cities have been targets of previous attacks by Islamist groups but there have also been incidents without any clear political motive.

Earlier this month, the US embassy in Russia said it was monitoring reports that “extremists” were planning to “attack large gatherings in Moscow,” including concerts.

The White House said Friday that the United States warned Russian authorities in early March about a “planned terrorist attack” that could target “large gatherings” in Moscow.

Washington had “shared this information with Russian authorities,” National Security Council spokeswoman Adrienne Watson said.

In 2002, Chechen separatist fighters took 912 people hostage in a Moscow theater, Dubrovka, demanding the withdrawal of Russian troops from the region.

Special forces attacked the theater to end the hostage situation and 130 people died, almost all asphyxiated by the gas used by security forces to knock out the gunmen.

AFP contributed to the report.

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