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Russia marks national day of mourning as the death toll from an attack on a concert hall rises to 137

Russia marked a national day of mourning on Sunday after an attack on a Moscow suburban concert More than 130 people died in the hall.

Family members and friends of the missing people were still waiting for news from their loved ones two days after the massacre, which also left around 150 people injured. The death toll, initially estimated at around 40rose to 137 by Sunday, intelligence officials said.

To mark the day of mourning, events in cultural institutions were canceled, flags were lowered to half-staff and television entertainment and advertising stopped, according to state news agency RIA Novosti. A steady stream of people filled a makeshift memorial near the burned-out concert hall, creating a huge pile of flowers.

“People came to a concert, some people came to relax with their families and any of us could have ended up in this situation. And I want to express my condolences and recognition to all the families who were affected here. “These people,” Andrey Kondakov, one of the mourners who came to lay flowers at the memorial, told The Associated Press.

“It is a tragedy that has affected our entire country,” said kindergarten worker Marina Korshunova. “It just doesn’t make sense that young children were affected by this event.” Three children were among the dead.

The attack, claimed by an affiliate of the Islamic State group, is the deadliest on Russian soil in years.

“The gunfire was constant,” said eyewitness Dave Primov CBS News. “People panicked and started running. Some fell and were trampled.”

As rescuers continue to search the damaged building and the death toll rises as more bodies are found, some families still don’t know whether relatives who went to the event Friday that was attacked by gunmen are still alive . The Moscow Health Ministry said on Sunday that it had begun identifying the bodies of those killed using DNA testing, which will take at least two weeks.

Igor Pogadaev was desperately searching for details about his wife’s whereabouts after she went to the concert and stopped responding to his messages.


Death toll in terrorist attack in Russia rises

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He hasn’t seen a message from Yana Pogadaeva since she sent her husband two photos from the Crocus City Hall venue.

After seeing reports of gunmen opening fire on concertgoers, Pogadaev rushed to the venue but could not find them in the numerous ambulances or among the hundreds of people who had left the venue.

“I walked around, looked, I asked everyone, I showed photos. Nobody saw anything, nobody could say anything,” Pogadaev told the AP in a video message.

He watched flames erupt from the building while frantically calling the hotline for victims’ families, but received no information.

As the death toll rose on Saturday, Pogodaev searched hospitals in the Russian capital and the Moscow region looking for information about newly admitted patients.

But his wife was neither among the 154 reported injured nor on the list of 50 victims that authorities had already identified, he said.

Pogadayev refuses to believe that his wife could be one of the 137 people killed in the attack and has still not gone home.

“I couldn’t be alone anymore, it’s very difficult, so I went to my friend’s house,” he said. “At least now I’m with someone.”

The Moscow Region Emergencies Ministry released a video on Sunday showing equipment dismantling the damaged venue to allow rescue workers access.

Meanwhile, President Vladimir Putin appears to be trying to link Ukraine to the attack, something the government strongly denies.

A US intelligence official told CBS News that the US has intelligence confirming that the Islamic State is responsible and that it has no reason to doubt these claims. The US Embassy in Russia had also previously advised Americans to stay away from concert events because of the possible risk of a terrorist attack. The US intelligence official confirmed to CBS News that the US had provided Russia with information about the possibility of an attack as part of the intelligence community’s duty to warn.

“ISIS bears sole responsibility for this attack. There was no involvement of Ukraine whatsoever,” National Security Council spokeswoman Adrienne Watson said in a statement.

Russian authorities arrested four suspected attackers on Saturday, Putin said in a late-night address to the nation, including 11 people detained on suspicion of involvement in the attack. He said they were captured while fleeing to Ukraine.

Although no court hearing was officially announced, there was a heavy police presence around Moscow’s Basmanny District Court on Sunday. The police tried to drive journalists away from the court.


Eleven people arrested after deadly attack at concert hall in Russia

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Putin called the attack “a bloody, barbaric act of terrorism” and said Russian authorities captured the four suspects as they tried to enter Ukraine through a “window” that had been prepared for them on the Ukrainian side of the border to flee.

Russian media broadcast videos that appeared to show the detention and interrogations of the suspects, including one who told the cameras he had been approached on a messaging app by an unknown assistant to an Islamic preacher and paid to take part in the raid.

Kiev strenuously denied any involvement and the Afghanistan branch of the Islamic State group claimed responsibility.

Putin made no mention of ISIS in his address to the nation, and Kiev accused him and other Russian politicians of falsely linking Ukraine to the attack to stoke fervor for Russia’s fight in Ukraine, which recently entered its third year went.

The raid was a major embarrassment for the Russian leader and came just days after he cemented his hold on the country for another six years in a vote that followed the harshest crackdown on dissent since the Soviet era.

Some commentators on Russian social media questioned why authorities, which have relentlessly suppressed any opposition activity and silenced independent media, failed to prevent the attack despite U.S. warnings.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement that the U.S. condemned the attack and said the Islamic State group is a “common terrorist enemy that must be defeated everywhere.”

Attack on a Moscow concert hall
Emergency services are on scene following a deadly terrorist attack at the Crocus City Hall in Moscow, Russia, on March 23, 2024. The attack on a popular concert hall marks the deadliest terrorist attack in the Russian capital in more than a decade.

Vlad Karkov/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images


ISIS, which fought Russia during its intervention in the Syrian civil war, has long targeted Russia. In a statement published by Aamaq news agency, the ISIS affiliate in Afghanistan said it attacked a large gathering of “Christians” in Krasnogorsk.

The group issued a new statement on Saturday in Aamaq, saying the attack was carried out by four men who used automatic rifles, a pistol, knives and firebombs. It was said the attackers fired into the crowd and stabbed some concertgoers. They described the raid as part of the Islamic State group’s ongoing war with countries they say are fighting Islam.

In October 2015, a bomb planted by ISIS crashed a Russian passenger plane over Sinai, killing all 224 people on board, most of them Russian vacationers returning from Egypt.

The group, which operates primarily in Syria and Iraq, but also in Afghanistan and Africa, has also claimed responsibility for several attacks in the Russian Caucasus and other regions in recent years. It recruited fighters from Russia and other parts of the former Soviet Union.

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