Tuesday, May 28, 2024

At Least 40 Reported Dead in Shooting

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At least 40 people were killed and more than 100 were injured during a mass shooting at a concert venue outside Moscow Friday, The New York Times reports.

The attack took place at Crocus City Hall, a massive complex in Krasnogorsk that includes a concert venue, shopping mall, convention center, hotels, and restaurants. The shooting reportedly took place as fans were awaiting the start of a show by the longstanding Russian rock band Picnic. 

Videos posted on social media showed gunmen entering Crocus City Hall and opening fire on the crowd as they waited for the show to start. A reporter on the scene for the local news agency RIA Novosit said: “At least three people in camouflage burst into the ground floor of Crocus City Hall and opened fire with automatic weapons. There are definitely wounded.”

On top of the shooting, an explosion at Crocus City was reported at around 9:32 p.m. local time. This led to a fire, which reportedly engulfed more than a third of the complex. Helicopters were sent to help rescue people on the roof of the building, while another section of the roof, above the stage, was reportedly collapsing.

It is not known yet who carried out the attack, or exactly how many people took part; state media agencies have said up to five were involved. Russia’s FBI equivalent, the Investigative Committee, wrote on Telegram that it had “opened a criminal case regarding a terrorist attack in the Moscow Region… An investigative team from the central office of the Russian Investigative Committee went to the scene of the incident” (via Google Translate). 

As of press time, Russian president Vladimir Putin had yet to make an official statement about the attack, though a Kremlin spokesperson said he was briefed on the incident minutes after it started. Moscow Mayor Sergei S. Sobyanin wrote on Telegram, “Today a terrible tragedy occurred in the Crocus City shopping center. My condolences to the loved ones of the victims.”

The attack notably comes several weeks after the U.S. Embassy in Moscow put out a March 7 security alert warning that “extremists have imminent plans to target large gatherings in Moscow,” and advised U.S. citizens to “avoid large gatherings over the next 48 hours.” No incidents occurred during that time frame, and on March 19, Putin called the alert “obviously blackmail” to “intimidate and destabilize our society.” 

The attack also takes place against the ongoing backdrop of Russia’s war in Ukraine, and already U.S. and Russian officials appear to be bickering over any theoretical or potential connection. White House national security communications adverse, John Kirby, told reporters there was “no indication at this time that Ukraine, or Ukrainians, were involved in the shooting.” Mykhailo Podolyak, an advisor to Ukraine’s presidential office, issued a video statement saying the country had “absolutely nothing to do” with the attack.” 


Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Russia’s foreign ministry, Maria Zakharova, said, “On what basis do officials in Washington draw any conclusions in the midst of a tragedy about someone’s innocence?” She added (per Reuters) that if Washington had any information about the attack, it should share it.

This story is developing…

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