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March 25 Moscow concert hall attack

March 25 Moscow concert hall attack
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By Antoinette Radford and Aditi Sangal, CNN

Updated

5:19 p.m. ET, March 25, 2024

4:05 p.m. ET, March 25, 2024

Putin says Moscow attack was carried out by “radical Islamists.” But he also blames Ukraine

From CNN’s Mariya Knight in Atlanta, Darya Tarasova and Sugam Pokharel in London

Russian President Vladimir Putin delivers a statement on Monday.
Russian President Vladimir Putin delivers a statement on Monday. Kremlin

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Monday that the brutal attack at a Moscow concert hall on Friday was carried out by “radical Islamists.” 

“We know that the crime was committed by radical Islamists, whose ideology the Islamic world itself has been fighting for centuries,” Putin said.

He also again suggested that Ukraine was to blame for the attack.

“It is also necessary to answer the question why the terrorists tried to go to Ukraine after committing a crime, who was waiting for them there? It is clear that those who support the Kyiv regime do not want to be accomplices of terror and sponsors of terrorism, but there are really a lot of questions,” he said in a meeting via videoconference with government officials, special services and law enforcement agencies on measures taken after the terrorist attack, according to the Kremlin.

“We know by whose hands this atrocity was committed against Russia and its people, and we are interested in who the instigator is,” Putin said.

ISIS claimed responsibility for the massacre and released graphic footage showing the incident – but the Kremlin has alleged, without evidence, that the perpetrators planned to flee to Ukraine. Kyiv has vehemently denied involvement and called the Kremlin’s claims “absurd.”

Putin on Saturday also claimed that a “window” had been prepared for the attackers to escape to Ukraine. He did not provide evidence.

The post has been updated with more details from Putin’s remarks.

2:34 p.m. ET, March 25, 2024

Death toll in Moscow concert hall attack rises to 139, Russian official says

From CNN’s Dasha Tarasova in London

People place flowers at a makeshift memorial in front of the Crocus City concert hall on Monday.
People place flowers at a makeshift memorial in front of the Crocus City concert hall on Monday. Alexander Zemlyanichenko/AP

Two more people have been confirmed dead following a brutal attack at a Moscow concert hall on Friday, taking the death toll to at least 139 killed, a senior Russian official said on Monday.

“Initial results of the investigation indicate that the attack was carefully planned and prepared,” Alexander Bastrykin, the head of the Investigative Committee of Russia, said in a live TV broadcast.

Here’s the numbers he provided:

  • Deaths: 139 people killed. 137 died on the spot, two died in hospitals.
  • Identified: 75 of 139 people have been identified, including three children.
  • Cause of death: 40 people died from gunshot wounds, two people died from a combination of gunshot and stab wounds. As a result of the fire, 45 people died from exposure to high temperature and combustion products.
2:39 p.m. ET, March 25, 2024

US says that it warned Russia in early March of possible terror attack despite ambassador’s denial

From CNN’s Michael Conte 

US State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller speaks to the media on Monday.
US State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller speaks to the media on Monday. Pool

The US State Department said Monday that the United States had warned Russia in early March about a planned terrorist attack in Moscow “potentially targeting large gatherings, including concerts.”

Spokesperson Matthew Miller was responding to a denial by the Russian Ambassador to the US Anatoly Antonov that Moscow received any warning.

“We gave them that private warning consistent with our duty to warn … when we see or when we gather intelligence of terrorist attacks or potential terrorist attacks,” Miller said at a press briefing. 

He noted the United States on March 7 warned US citizens to avoid large gatherings in Moscow.

Russian President Vladimir Putin had described the security warning as “provocative” and “outright blackmail” before the attack.

“It was because of that warning that we passed on to the Russian government that we issued a security warning on March 7, where we again said to US citizens that we had information about a planned terrorist attack in Moscow… potentially targeting large gatherings including concerts,” Miller added. 

1:27 p.m. ET, March 25, 2024

Here’s what you need to know about the Moscow concert hall attack that killed 137 people

From CNN staff

Flowers are left near the Crocus City concert hall on Monday.
Flowers are left near the Crocus City concert hall on Monday. Olga Maltseva/AFP/Getty Images

All four suspects in the Crocus City concert hall attack case have been remanded into pre-trial detention until May 22. They are charged with committing a terrorist act, according to the courts of general jurisdiction of the city of Moscow, which under the Russian Criminal Code is punishable by up to life imprisonment.

Three of the defendants pled guilty to all charges, according to state media news agency TASS.

All four are from Tajikistan, a former Soviet republic, and had been in Russia on either temporary or expired visas.

On Monday afternoon, authorities said they had identified an additional three people who they believed were involved in the attack — two brothers and a father.

Friday’s attack killed at least 137 people. The attack is Russia’s deadliest in two decades.

Catch up on the latest developments:

  • Day of mourning: Russian President Vladimir Putin declared Sunday a day of national mourning for the 137 victims in Friday’s attack.
  • Authorities work to identify victims: Procedures to identify those killed in the attack have begun, the city’s Department of Health said, according to Russian state news agency RIA Novosti. The Russian Investigative Committee said 62 bodies had been identified so far, adding that “for the remaining victims, genetic examinations are being carried out to establish their identities.”
  • Fighting terrorism in Syria and Turkey: Putin held separate calls with his Turkish and Syrian counterparts, Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Bashar al-Assad, on Saturday and promised closer cooperation in fighting terrorism following the attack, according to a Kremlin readout.
  • Russian Embassy says no warnings from US: The Russian Embassy in Washington says it did not receive any warnings about a potential attack in Moscow from the US. Last week, Putin dismissed warnings by the US embassy in Russia that there could be attacks on large groups.
  • Putin links attack to Ukraine: Putin said the main suspects arrested planned to flee into Ukraine. Ukraine has denied any connection. The UK warned that Russia was creating a “smokescreen of propaganda.”
  • Terror alert: France has lifted its terror alert to its highest level following the deadly attack in Moscow, French Prime Minister Gabriel Attal said Sunday.
12:35 p.m. ET, March 25, 2024

Russian social media channels show apparent torture of Crocus City suspects

From CNN’s Nathan Hodge

Saidakrami Rachabalizoda, a suspect in the deadly terrorist attack in Moscow, sits behind a glass wall of an enclosure during a court appearance on Sunday. His ear was heavily bandaged.
Saidakrami Rachabalizoda, a suspect in the deadly terrorist attack in Moscow, sits behind a glass wall of an enclosure during a court appearance on Sunday. His ear was heavily bandaged. Yulia Morozova/Reuters

Video footage and still images have appeared on Russian social media that appear to show the violent interrogation of several of the men alleged to have taken part in the deadly terror attack on a concert hall outside Moscow Friday. 

One video appears to show one of the suspects, Saidakrami Rachabalizoda, being held on the ground while having part of his ear cut off by a camouflage-wearing interrogator. Rachabalizoda later appeared in court with a heavily bandaged ear. 

The Grey Zone, a pro-Kremlin Telegram channel, published a still photograph that claims to show the electrocution of one of the detained suspects.

Margarita Simonyan, the editor-in-chief of Russian state propaganda network RT, posted a video that appears to show the interrogation of another suspect, Shamsidin Fariduni, who is shown stammering and shaking as he is questioned by interrogators off camera. Fariduni subsequently appeared in court with a bruised face. 

CNN asked the Kremlin about the “visible signs of violence” committed against the suspects, but spokesperson Dmitry Peskov declined to comment.  

1:50 p.m. ET, March 25, 2024

Russian Investigative Committee asks court to detain three more in connection with concert hall attack

From CNN’s Tim Lister and Darya Tarasova

The Russian Investigative Committee says it has established that more people were involved in Friday’s Crocus City terror attack beyond the four men alleged to have carried out the attack.

“According to the investigation, in order to commit a terrorist act, Shamsidin Fariduni recruited Aminchon Islomov into the organized group no later than January 2024, and Dilovar Islomov no later than March 11, 2024,” the Investigative Committee said on Telegram. 

The three individuals are two brothers and their father, Russian state media agency TASS said. Investigators are asking the Basmanny Court of Moscow to choose a preventive measure for the three defendants, the court told TASS.

“Three more materials were received regarding the accused Islomov Aminchon Isroilovich, Islomov Dilovar Isroilovich, as well as the suspect Islomov IsroilIbragimovich,” the court said, according to TASS. Fariduni was one of those detained in Bryansk Saturday. Both Aminchon and Dilovar Islomov appeared in Basmanny court in Moscow Monday. State news agency TASS said that Dilovar Islomov is a citizen of the Russian Federation and works as a taxi driver, citing court documents.

Russian state news agency RIA said Dilovar Islomov “owned the Renault car in which the terrorists fled the crime scene, sold it in February, and the compulsory motor liability insurance remained on him,” citing a source familiar with the situation.

10:55 a.m. ET, March 25, 2024

Here’s what to know about ISIS-K, the group linked to the Moscow concert hall terror attack

From CNN’s Jessie Yeung

A view shows the burned out Crocus City hall venue, the scene of Friday's attack outside Moscow, on Saturday, March 23.
A view shows the burned out Crocus City hall venue, the scene of Friday’s attack outside Moscow, on Saturday, March 23. Stringer/AFP/Getty Images

ISIS, also known as the Islamic State group, claimed responsibility for Friday’s deadly assault on a concert venue in Moscow, releasing graphic footage purporting to show its gunmen carrying out what was Russia’s worst terror attack in decades.

Here’s what we know about the group:

When was it formed?: ISIS-K was formed in 2015 and has been active in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran. It is a branch of ISIS, the terror group that emerged in Syria and Iraq and, at its peak, controlled a huge stretch of territory. Five years since the fall of ISIS’ self-proclaimed caliphate across Iraq and Syria, the group has morphed into a terror network with cells spread around the world, including in Africa, the Middle East, Central Asia and Southeast Asia.

How is it linked to ISIS? The connection between the groups is not entirely clear. The affiliates share an ideology and tactics, but the depth of their relationship – such as the chain of command and control – has never been fully established.

What is its ideology?: Like its parent organization, ISIS-K aims to create a “pure Islamic state,” according to the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) – describing the group’s vision of a “global, transnational caliphate” governed by Sharia law.

Why attack Russia?: ISIS has a longstanding animosity against Russia and Putin, several experts told CNN. “Russia has been at the top or near the top of the list of ISIS for many years,” said Daniel Byman, director of Georgetown University’s security studies program.

Read more about ISIS-K here.

10:23 a.m. ET, March 25, 2024

Russians return to site of Moscow terror attack to offer condolences

From CNN’s Matthew Chance and Katharina Krebs in Moscow

A mans lays flowers at a makeshift memorial outside Crocus City hall on Monday.
A mans lays flowers at a makeshift memorial outside Crocus City hall on Monday. CNN

Four days after Friday’s Moscow terror attack, some 200 people gathered at the site of the attack Monday morning, offering condolences to the victims, a CNN team in Moscow reports.

While the crowd was much smaller than the numbers who were at the Crocus City hall on Sunday, a steady flow of people were bringing flowers and stuffed toys to the scene, according to the CNN team. Candles were also laid next to the memorial.

A Russian Red Cross tent is set up at the location to provide psychological help. The CNN team said volunteers are helping people with directions on where to pick up belongings or cars left on Friday. The main entrance of the Crocus hall remains barricaded off, with police buses and emergency vehicles clearing rubble. Search operations are still ongoing.

The victims: Moscow’s Department of Health published an updated list of those still hospitalized in the capital’s medical institutions after the attack, consisting of 76 names.

At least 137 people died in the attack after gunmen opened fire on people inside the hall, and set fire to the building. Of them, at least three were children. President Vladimir Putin declared Sunday a day of national mourning, vowing to punish the perpetrators and expressing condolences to those who had lost loved ones.

7:32 a.m. ET, March 25, 2024

Tajikistan reiterates readiness to cooperate with Russia against terrorism after Moscow concert attack 

From CNN’s Anna Chernova

Following the identification of the four men charged with carrying out the attack in Moscow on Friday as Tajik nationals, Tajikistan has reiterated its readiness to fight terrorism together with Russia.

The Russian state news agency TASS published video Monday showing Tajik Prime Minister Kokhir Rasulzoda writing a note in the book of condolences at the Russian embassy in Dushanbe.

State-run RIA Novosti reported on its Telegram channel that Tajikistan is providing assistance to the Russian investigation “in the case of the terrorist attack in Crocus,” citing a source in Tajikistan’s special services. It reported that a source in the Russian Foreign Ministry had confirmed that “Tajikistan specialists are providing assistance to investigators from Russia in connection with the arrest of citizens of the republic in the case of a terrorist attack.”

On Sunday, the Kremlin said that Russian President Vladimir Putin had spoken with his Tajik counterpart Emomali Rahmon, who had expressed “deep condolences and feelings of solidarity with the Russian people in connection with the death of civilians as a result of the vile terrorist attack at Crocus City Hall.”

“During the conversation, Vladimir Putin and Emomali Rahmon noted that special services and relevant departments of Russia and Tajikistan are working closely in the field of countering terrorism, and this work will be intensified,” the Kremlin said. 

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