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Moscow Concert Hall Attack claims more than 60 lives; ISIS claims responsibility

Andrew Travis

Staff Writer

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On Friday, March 22, multiple assailants opened fire in a concert hall at Crocus City Hall, just outside Moscow, killing more than 60 people and injuring over 100 more as of Saturday morning, according to The Associated Press. The attack left the concert hall in flames, which can be seen in video posted by The Associated Press following the incident. 

ISIS took responsibility for the attack via its Amaq channel on Telegram, according to Newsweek. The deadliest attack on Russian soil since 2004 comes two weeks after Putin won his sixth term as Russian president unopposed. 

The shooting started minutes before a sold-out performance by the Russian rock band Piknik was scheduled to start, according to The New York Times. The venue, on the outskirts of Moscow, can hold up to 6,900 people. 

Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova called the incident a “monstrous crime,” and called on the international community to condemn the incident, according to Al Jazeera. 

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres late Friday condemned “in the strongest possible terms today’s terrorist attack” in a statement released by his deputy spokesperson, Farhan Haq, according to CNN. The UN’s Security Council also called the attack “heinous and cowardly.”

Both Russia and Ukraine have released statements on the attack, with neither side fully accepting the claim of ISIS responsibility. In a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, the defense intelligence of Ukraine blamed the attack on the Russian special services on orders from Putin himself. Dmitry Medvedev, deputy chairman of the Security Council of Russia, suggested that Ukraine might be behind the attack, according to Newsweek

This is not the first time Putin has been accused of “false-flag” operations against his people. In 1999, deadly bombings in multiple apartment buildings enabled Putin to reign in enough power to propel him to the presidency, says Radio Free Europe. The bombings, resulting in over 300 fatalities, were attributed to militants from Arab countries and Chechnyan dissenters against Russian authority. These incidents facilitated Putin’s ascent to leadership and initiated an extensive conflict in Chechnya.

The U.S. had secretly warned Russia in early March about intelligence that there was a plot to attack large crowds in Russia, according to the Wall Street Journal. In addition to the warnings, on March 7, the U.S. Embassy and Consulate released a cryptic message notifying Americans in Russia to avoid large gatherings. 

The rivaling claims by Russia and Ukraine officials seem to be arbitrary, as U.S. intelligence officials confirmed the claim by the Islamic State group’s branch based in Afghanistan that it was responsible for the Moscow attack, according to The Associated Press.

The Islamic State has traditionally been limited to the Middle East and North Africa region, with the Taliban acting as their biggest rival in the last five years. However, the group has now laid claim to the attack on Russia. ISIS seems to be fixated on Russia, with a vengeance for Moscow’s interventions in Afghanistan, Chechnya, and Syria, according to Colin P. Clarke, a counterterrorism analyst at the Soufan Group, who discussed the attack with The New York Times.

Image Courtesy of Getty Images

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