Terror: Attack near Moscow: What we know – and what we don’t:

Terror: Attack near Moscow: What we know – and what we don’t:

Several attackers open fire in a concert hall near Moscow. There are many dead and injured. The investigation is being carried out because of terrorism, but many questions remain unanswered.

A terrorist attack on the Crocus City Hall event center in Moscow left many people dead and injured. The Russian domestic secret service FSB says it has arrested eleven suspects, including four shooters who were allegedly directly involved in the crime.

What we know:

Crime scene and time: The attack occurred in Krasnogorsk, northwest of Moscow, at the popular Crocus City Hall event center. There is also a concert hall with more than 6,000 seats, where the Russian band Piknik was scheduled to perform on Friday evening – to a sold-out crowd. According to eyewitnesses, shortly before 8 p.m. local time (6 p.m. CET), a white car drove up there, from which armed men got out and opened fire on security guards and visitors.

The alleged perpetrators

The four suspected shooters who were directly involved are said to have been in Crocus City Hall for less than half an hour. According to eyewitnesses, they shot concertgoers indiscriminately in the concert hall and set fires with gasoline that they had in their backpacks. The perpetrators were then able to escape in the car in which they came, according to eyewitnesses. According to official information, the car was then stopped and there were weapons and Tajik passports in the car. In total, the Russian domestic secret service says eleven people were arrested.

Authorities and security measures

Emergency services cordoned off Crocus City Hall for forensic investigation. All major events have been canceled in the Russian capital and the Moscow area. Theaters, cinemas and museums remained closed over the weekend. Red Square in Moscow was also cordoned off. There was an increased presence of uniformed officers throughout the city. Hundreds of people responded to calls from the authorities to donate blood for the many injured.

Putin’s reaction

President Vladimir Putin only spoke in a video address in the afternoon. He condemned the terrorist attack and set a national day of mourning in Russia for Sunday. During a speech to the FSB this week, Putin ignored recent warnings from the USA and other countries about an impending terrorist attack. The West is using such provocations to destabilize the situation in Russia, he claimed. Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said that if the US had facts, it should present them.

The letter of confession

The terrorist militia Islamic State, which Russia is fighting in Syria, has claimed responsibility for the attack. Experts also consider such a message to be genuine. On Saturday, IS also published pixelated photos of the alleged attackers. The fighters, armed with assault rifles, pistols and bombs, dealt a “severe blow” to Russia, the statement said. The attack targeted “thousands of Christians in a music hall.”

What we don’t know:

Dead and injured: It is unclear exactly how many dead and injured there are because the removal of rubble after a major fire in the concert hall was ongoing on Saturday. In addition, there were so many seriously injured people that the authorities assumed that they would not be able to save all lives. The bodies of women who had initially sought safety in a toilet before the shots were also found. They probably died of smoke inhalation.

The shooters

There are several videos and photos in the state media and social networks in which the alleged perpetrators can be seen – and are also questioned about themselves. However, the authenticity of the videos could not initially be verified. Reports that they are citizens of the Central Asian ex-Soviet republic of Tajikistan are also not certain. The passports could be fake. Tajikistan, which borders Afghanistan, is known as a retreat for Islamist terrorists.

Russian doubts about letters of confession

The Russian investigators initially did not comment on the IS letter of responsibility; some Russian media also reported that it was an alleged “fake”. Russian propagandists adamantly claimed that Ukraine was behind the attack. Putin also claimed that there should be a Ukrainian lead. They did not provide any evidence of this. Ukraine, against which Russia has been waging a brutal war of aggression for more than two years, clearly rejected rumors of involvement.

The consequences

It is likely to be one of the most serious terrorist attacks since the Beslan school massacre in 2004. It is to be expected that – as always after such attacks – the already massive security precautions in Russia will be drastically tightened again. The authorities will have to face questions about why, despite repeatedly claiming success in the search for terrorists, they failed so widely this time.

Source: Stern

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