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Live updates: Death toll in Moscow concert hall attack rises to 133

Ivan Nechepurenko
March 23, 2024, 7:44 am ET

Emergency services at the Crocus City Hall concert venue following an attack outside Moscow, Russia, in the early hours of Saturday.Credit…Nanna Heitmann for the New York Times

At least 115 people were killed and more than 140 injured in an attack on a popular concert venue near Moscow on Friday evening. This was the deadliest terrorist attack in the Russian capital in more than a decade.

An affiliate of the Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack; American officials have also attributed it to ISIS-K, a branch of the group active in Iran and Afghanistan. Russian officials have not commented on the claim. Authorities have arrested at least 11 people, including all four they say were directly involved, but have not identified the attackers or their motives.

Here’s a closer look at the attack.

What happened?

The gunmen broke into the Crocus City Hall building, one of the largest entertainment complexes in the Russian capital with a capacity of more than 6,000 spectators, just before the start of a sold-out rock concert. Armed with automatic rifles, they started shooting.

Russian investigators said they used explosives and flammable liquids and set the building on fire, causing chaos as people began to flee. The fire quickly engulfed more than a third of the building, spreading smoke and causing parts of the roof to collapse. Russia’s emergency service Posted Video and images from the aftermath of the fire show charred seats and firefighters working to clear debris.

Russian law enforcement authorities said people died from gunshot wounds and poisoning from the smoke. Many of the injured suffered burns, the Russian rescue service said.

At least three helicopters were dispatched to put out the fire or rescue people from the roof. The firefighters only managed to contain the fire early on Saturday; According to emergency services, it was mostly extinguished by 5 a.m

Where are the attackers?

The attackers were able to flee the scene. Early Saturday, the head of Russia’s FSB secret service said 11 people had been arrested in connection with the attack, including “all four terrorists directly involved.”

There were signs that Russia would try to pin blame on Ukraine, despite the Islamic State’s claim. The FSB said in a statement that the attack was carefully planned and the terrorists tried to flee towards Ukraine.

A Russian lawmaker said earlier that two terror suspects had been arrested in the Bryansk region, southwest of Moscow.

How are the Russians reacting?

President Vladimir V. Putin, who claimed victory in a presidential election on Sunday, did not immediately comment on the attack. The Kremlin said the Russian president spoke with his Belarusian counterpart Alexander Lukashenko on Saturday and that the two allies “confirmed their willingness to cooperate in the fight against terrorism.” A deputy prime minister, Tatyana Golikova, said Mr Putin expressed hope for the recovery of the injured and his gratitude to doctors treating them.

The attack has shattered Muscovites’ sense of relative security over the past decade and brought back memories of attacks that overshadowed life in the Russian capital in the 2000s.

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