Sunday, April 14, 2024

Russian authorities say at least 40 killed in Moscow concert hall shooting | Gun Violence News

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Gunmen burst into a big concert hall in Moscow and fired automatic weapons at the crowd, killing 40 people and wounding more than 100, according to Russia’s state news agency TASS, citing the Federal Security Service (FSB).

Russian news reports said the assailants also used explosives, causing a massive blaze at the Crocus City Hall on the western edge of Moscow on Friday.

Russia’s Ministry of Health said some of those injured have already been admitted to medical facilities.

A video posted on social media showed huge plumes of black smoke rising over the building in the Krasnogorsk suburb in the north of the Russian capital, which can hold several thousand people and has hosted top international artists.

Russian media reported that three to five people in combat fatigues had fired weapons into the crowd who were attending a concert of the rock band “Picnic”.

A journalist for the RIA Novosti news agency who was at the scene said the gunmen opened automatic fire and threw a grenade or incendiary bomb. Fire quickly spread through the concert hall.

“People who were in the hall were led on the ground to protect themselves from the shooting for 15 or 20 minutes,” the journalist was quoted as saying.

People started crawling out when it was safe, the journalist reported, adding that security forces were at the scene.

Russian law enforcement officers stand guard near the burning Crocus City Hall concert venue following a shooting incident outside Moscow [Maxim Shemetov/Reuters]

An ‘act of terrorism’

Russian rescue services have evacuated about 100 people from the basement of the Crocus City Hall, but there are still people on the roof, Russian news agencies reported.

Media reports said firefighting crews were trying to localise the fire, while the National Guard was searching for the assailants.

President Vladimir Putin is receiving continuous updates about the situation, his spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

“The president is constantly being informed by all relevant services about what is happening and the measures being taken,” Peskov told Russian news agencies.

Russia’s ombudsman, Moskalkova, called the shooting an “act of terrorism”, according to RIA Novosti, while Moscow mayor Sergei Sobyanin announced the cancellation of all public events planned this weekend in the Russian capital.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova called on the international community to condemn the incident, calling it “a monstrous crime”.

The White House said that the images of shooting in the Russian capital were “horrible and just hard to watch.”

Ukraine had ‘nothing to do’ with the shooting: Podolyak

Ukraine’s presidential aide Mykhailo Podolyak said Ukraine was not involved in the shooting on his Telegram channel.

“Regarding the events in Crocus City in the Russian suburbs, where certain events took place today, some shooting, some terrorist actions by unidentified persons, let’s be clear, Ukraine absolutely has nothing to do with these events,” he said.

“There is no indication at this time that Ukraine or Ukrainians were involved in the shooting,” US National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby also told reporters. “I would disabuse you at this early hour of any connection to Ukraine.”

Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev wrote on the Telegram app that if those responsible for the attack turn out to be Ukrainian, “all of them must be found and ruthlessly destroyed as terrorists”.

Zakharova responded to the White House’s comments about Ukraine’s non-involvement by asking, “On what basis do officials in Washington draw any conclusions in the midst of a tragedy about someone’s innocence?”

She said that if Washington had information, it should be shared and that if Washington had no information, it should not be talking in such a way.

Yulia Shapovalova, Al Jazeera’s correspondent in Moscow, said, “It’s worth noting that about a week ago, right before the presidential election to Russia, the US and British embassies posted a warning on their websites about a possibility of a terror attack.”


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