What is known about the concert hall attack in Moscow

The biggest attack to strike a concert hall in Moscow in years occurred on Friday. Days after President Vladimir Putin took office for a fifth time, gunmen broke into the facility and murdered over 130 people. Four members of the Islamic State group (IS) are claimed to have carried out the attack. This is the current state of knowledge. Just after 20:00 (17:00 GMT) on Friday night, gunmen broke into the foyer of Crocus City Hall, a musical venue for the rock group Picnic, which was scheduled to take place on the outskirts of Moscow, 20km (12 miles) from the Kremlin. On camera, at least four individuals could be seen firing indiscriminately before entering the music hall and starting to fire.  A woman inside the theater claimed that as soon as she realized shots were being fired, she and other guests hurried towards the stage. “I saw a person in the stalls with a sidearm and there were cracks [of gunfire] going off, I was trying to crawl behind a loudspeaker,” she stated on Russian television.

There is a glimpse of flames within the hallway at one point. Later, glass on the top two stories of the seven-story building burst out, and flames consumed the facade. According to Russia’s Investigative Committee, “the terrorists used a flammable liquid to set fire to the concert hall’s premises, where spectators were located, including wounded.” Although 160 tonnes of water were dropped by helicopters, it took roughly ten hours to put out the fire. Hundreds had been slain and injured by the time the suspects managed to flee; by some estimates, the attack lasted for roughly twenty minutes. Some people died from smoke inhalation, while many others died from bullet wounds. The members of Picnic’s band escaped uninjured. For the event, almost 6,000 Russians had gone to the shopping and entertainment complex. There has been a steady increase in the death toll. At least 137 deaths have been reported by Sunday afternoon.

According to the initial official list of dead, the oldest victim appeared to be in her 70s and had three children. Authorities have cautioned that additional people could perish in addition to the dead and that at least 60 people are still in critical condition. On the northwest edge of Moscow, Krasnogorsk, Khimki, and other neighboring towns accounted for a large number of the dead and injured.  A manhunt was launched after it seems that the attackers were able to flee the chaos and fire they had left behind. The attackers, according to Russian MP Alexander Khinshtein, drove off in a white Renault. He claimed that when police attempted to halt the car in the Bryansk area, some 340 kilometers (210 miles) from Moscow, they were able to apprehend two persons while the other two ran away. The Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) declared that 11 persons had been detained, including four who were “directly involved,” around 14 hours after the initial reports of the shooting. On Sunday, four suspects—Dalerdzhon Mirzoyev, Muhammadsobir Fayzov, Shamsidin Fariduni, and Saidakrami Murodali Rachabalizoda—were brought into a Moscow courtroom.

Each of them faces a life sentence in jail after being accused of terrorism. All four were from Tajikistan, according to Russia’s official news agency Tass. IS claimed responsibility for the attack in a succinct statement on Friday. It published a picture on Saturday purporting to show the four attackers, all of whom were wearing masks. Later, the organization made extremely gory attack footage public. The BBC has confirmed the authenticity of the video, which shows one of the gunmen starting to fire on many individuals. This video will not be shown on the BBC. The IS claim was made two weeks after the US issued a warning about a possible attack targeting “large gatherings” in Moscow; Russian officials have not responded to the warning. Russian officials have expressed dissatisfaction with the US intelligence’s lack of specificity. And only last week, Putin said: “Recent provocative statements by a number of official Westerns structures about the possibility of terrorist attacks in Russia… resembles outright blackmail and an intention to intimidate and destabilise our society.”

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