Moscow Attack: Death Toll, US's Unheard 'Warning', Chilling Details From Scene | Key Points

Moscow Attack: The attack on Friday on Crocus City Hall, a sprawling mall and concert venue on Moscow's western edge, left at least 133 people dead and many wounded as armed assailants sprayed the crowd with gunfire and left the building a smoldering ruin.

In this photo released by Russian Emergency Ministry Press Service on Saturday, March 23, 2024, firefighters work in the burned concert hall after an attack on the building of the Crocus City Hall on the western edge of Moscow, Russia. Photo: AP

At least 133 people have died in the Friday Moscow concert hall massacre, the most deadly terrorist attack Russia has seen in years. While the Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for the attack, Russia President Vladimir Putin on Saturday said the arrested suspects were "headed to Ukraine".

Armed assailants on Friday stormed a concert hall in Russia's Moscow, killing 133 people, in an attack that came just days after Putin tightened his grip on power after winning the elections as country's war in Ukraine dragged into a third year.

The Islamic State group's Afghanistan branch claimed responsibility for Friday's attack in a statement posted on affiliated channels on social media. A US intelligence official, cited it an Associated Press (AP) report, said that US agencies had confirmed that the group was responsible for the attack.

Russia Attack | Key Points

What Happened In Moscow

Armed assailants stormed a large concert hall in Moscow on Friday, March 22, and sprayed the crowd with gunfire, killing at least 133 people. Videos posted online showed gunmen in the venue shooting civilians at point-blank range.

Russian news reports cited authorities and witnesses saying that the attackers threw explosive devices that started the fire. The roof of the theater, where crowds had gathered for a performance by the Russian rock band Picnic, collapsed early Saturday as firefighters spent hours fighting the blaze.

Disturbing Visuals

Who Claimed Responsibility

The Islamic State (IS) group, an offshoot of al-Qaida that took over much of Iraq and Syria in 2014, claimed responsibility on the social media channels that they typically use to issue statements. They first claimed responsibility for the attack on Friday and then again Saturday.

In their Saturday statement Islamic State group said the attack had come in the “natural framework” of the ongoing war between the extremist group and countries they accuse of fighting Islam, an Associated Press report mentioned.

Did US 'Warn' Russia Beforehand?

A US official also reportedly confirmed that US agencies said that IS-K, a Central Asian affiliate of the Islamic State group, was responsible for the attack, noting that IS-K has long targeted Russia.

The US Embassy in Moscow had issued a security alert to US citizens on March 7 saying it was monitoring reports that extremists had “imminent plans to target large gatherings" in Moscow, including concerts. Putin had denounced the US warning as an attempt to scare Russians.

The March 7 warning advised US citizens to avoid large gatherings for the coming 48 hours. The bloody attack came just over two weeks later.

Even though the US said it has evidence backing up the jihadists' claim, the attack has led to Moscow and Kyiv pointing fingers at each other.

Putin Says Suspects Tried To Escape To Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Saturday 11 people have been detained in connection with the attack on the Moscow concert. In an address to the nation, Putin called it “a bloody, barbaric terrorist act” and said all four people who were directly involved had been taken into custody.

Putin suggested they had been trying to cross the border into Ukraine which, he said, tried to create a “window” to help them escape.

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

Grim Details From Attack Scene

While some people died of gunshot wounds in the deadly attack, others were killed in a huge fire as gunmen used petrol to set fire to the concert hall.

Russian media reported that 28 bodies were found in a toilet and 14 on a staircase.

Investigators on Saturday combed through the charred wreckage of the hall for more victims, as the authorities said the death toll could still rise. Hundreds of people stood in line in Moscow early Saturday to donate blood and plasma, Russia's health ministry said.

Images shared by Russian state media Saturday showed a fleet of emergency vehicles still gathered outside the ruins of Crocus City Hall, which had a capacity of hosting more than 6,000 people and has hosted many big events, including the 2013 Miss Universe beauty pageant that featured Donald Trump and other VIPs.