The Citizen (KZN)

Moscow mourns concert killings


- Moscow

Four IS fighters arrested as they ‘tried to flee to Ukraine’.

Russia observed a national day of mourning yesterday after a massacre in a Moscow concert hall that killed more than 130 people, the deadliest attack in Europe to have been claimed by the Islamic State (IS) group.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has vowed to punish those behind the “barbaric terrorist attack”, saying four gunmen trying to flee to Ukraine had been arrested.

Kyiv has strongly denied any connection, with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky accusing Putin of trying to shift the blame onto them.

“The whole country is in mourning with those who lost their loved ones in this inhumane tragedy,” public television channel Russia 24 said yesterday.

Putin, in his first public remarks on the attack, made no reference to a statement by IS claiming responsibi­lity.

At least 133 people were killed when camouflage­d gunmen stormed the Crocus City Hall, in Moscow’s northern suburb of Krasnogors­k, and then set fire to the building on Friday evening.

The Islamic State group on Saturday wrote on Telegram the attack was “carried out by four IS fighters armed with machine guns, a pistol, knives and firebombs,” as part of “the raging war” with “countries fighting Islam”.

A video lasting about a minute and half apparently shot by the gunmen has been posted on social media accounts typically used by IS, according to the Site intelligen­ce group.

The video appears to have been shot from the lobby of the concert venue and shows several individual­s with blurred faces and garbled voices, firing assault rifles with inert bodies strewn about and a fire starting in the background.

The attack was the deadliest in Russia for almost two decades.

Russian officials expect the death toll to rise further, with more than 150 wounded.

Russia’s Investigat­ive Committee, which probes major crimes, said rescue workers were still pulling bodies from the burnt-out building on Saturday.

The emergency situations ministry has so far named 29 of the victims, the blaze having complicate­d the process of identifica­tion.

“Terrorists, murderers, nonhumans have only one unenviable fate: retributio­n and oblivion,” Putin said in his televised address. –

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