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Dark theory after deadly Russia attack

Russian President Vladimir Putin could use the deadly attack on a Moscow concert hall to mobilize for war and make things “much worse” for Russians, an expert has warned.

One hundred and thirty-three people were killed and 145 injured after gunmen stormed the Crocus City Hall in Krasnogorsk, where Russian pop group Picnic was preparing to perform, and opened fire on Friday evening local time.

Eleven people, including four “terrorists,” were arrested over the attack. Putin described those responsible as “criminals who were cold-blooded and deliberately wanted to kill and shoot our citizens and our children at close range.”

Sergey Radchenko, a historian and professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, warned that “things are certainly going to get much, much worse for the Russians” after the attack.

“Terrorism is a familiar threat to Russians, and Putin has a history of opportunistically using fear of terrorism to consolidate his power. (This is of course an innocuous point of view, but there is no absolute need to embrace conspiracy theories to make this point),” wrote Dr. Radchenko on X

He said Putin had a “clear” goal – “more internal repression” and “mobilization for war.”

“Russia has become a giant toilet, and things are sure to get much, much worse for Russians and the unfortunate weakness of Russia’s incurable disease. To be fair, trends have been pointing in this direction for a long time.”

Armed men storm the Moscow Concert Hall

Matthew Sussex, a Russia expert and associate professor at the Australian National University, also warned that Russia would respond with “extreme violence.”

Speaking to BBC News, Professor Sussex cited the aftermath of the 2002 Moscow theater siege and the 2004 Beslan school siege as examples.

“Perhaps it is not so important who carried out the attacks, but rather who the Russian government believes is to blame and against whom it will respond,” he said.

The Reuters news agency reports that ISIS-K, a splinter group of the Islamic State (ISIS), claimed responsibility for the attack on its Telegram channel.

US authorities said there was “currently no indication” that Ukraine was involved in the attack.

According to the Russian government, the four suspected shooters arrested are not Russian citizens.

“They are all foreigners,” the Interior Ministry said in a statement.

This came after Putin addressed the tragic attack in a televised address on Saturday and vowed to punish those responsible.

“They tried to hide and moved towards Ukraine, where, according to preliminary information, a window was prepared for them to cross the state border from the Ukrainian side,” he said.

“Whoever they are, whoever leads them. I repeat: we will identify and punish anyone who is behind the terrorists.

“Now the main thing is to prevent those behind this bloodbath from committing a new crime.”

US warning of attack

According to CBS, US officials have confirmed that there has been a steady flow of information since November that ISIS is planning to attack Russia.

On March 7, the FSB (Russia’s Federal Security Service) said it had prevented an attack on a synagogue in Moscow planned by an ISIS cell.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Embassy in Moscow issued a security alert after receiving reports that “extremists have immediate plans to target large gatherings in Moscow, including concerts.”

At the time, US citizens were advised to “avoid large gatherings for the next 48 hours.”

U.S. National Security Council spokeswoman Adrienne Watson said the U.S. government “shared this information with Russian authorities in accordance with its long-standing ‘duty to warn’ policy.”

But in a speech earlier this week, Putin dismissed warnings and accused the West of making “provocative statements.”

“I would like to remind you of the recent, let’s say directly, provocative statements by some official Western structures about possible terrorist attacks in Russia,” Putin said.

“This all looks like blatant blackmail and an attempt to intimidate and destabilize our country.”

Russia’s Health Minister Mikhail Murashko initially said that 115 people were in hospital after the attack, including five children, and 60 of the victims were seriously injured.

Horror footage of five heavily armed gunmen in camouflage clothing has appeared online.

The men reportedly entered the concert hall at around 8pm local time on Friday evening (4am AEDT Saturday) and began shooting at around 6,200 people believed to be inside.

It was reported that they gained access through both the main entrance and the underground car park.

According to a journalist from the RIA Novosti news agency who was at the scene, the gunmen also threw a grenade or incendiary bomb that started a major fire in the building.

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

People began crawling out when it was safe, the journalist reported.

The rescue ministry said on its Telegram channel that about 100 people fled through the basement of the theater while others sought shelter on the roof.

A witness, Vitaly, said he was in the concert hall on one of the balcony levels.

“We heard shots, we didn’t know what happened at first. Then I saw some terrorists shooting at people,” he said.

“They threw a few petrol bombs and everything started burning. We were led to an exit. The exit door was locked, so we went to the basement of the venue where we waited for rescuers.”

Another witness said there was a “terrible crush” as people tried to escape, and people were “climbing on their heads to get out.”

Another unnamed witness said the venue was also hosting a ballroom dancing competition for children at the time of the attack.

“Children and young people took part in the competition. People came and said there were shootings.

A swarm occurred. The children ran out in their ball gowns.

Authorities have canceled all public events in Moscow for the rest of the weekend and said a “terrorism” investigation had been launched.

His spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, told Russian news agencies that President Vladimir Putin was “constantly” informed about the attack.

Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin was the first to confirm that there had been fatalities in what he called a “terrible tragedy.”

“I express my condolences to the families of the dead,” he said.

with AFP

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