Multiple gunmen open fire at Moscow concert hall, building on fire after attack

Several gunmen in combat fatigues burst into a big concert hall in Moscow on Friday and fired automatic weapons at the crowd, injuring an unspecified number of people, Russian media said.

Russian news reported that between two to five assailants were involved in the attack and also used explosives, causing a massive blaze at the Crocus City Hall on the western edge of Moscow.

Multiple Russian media outlets reported there are many dead and wounded. 

The attack took place as crowds gathered for a concert by Picnic, a famed Russian rock band, at the hall, which can accommodate over 6,000 people.

Russian news reports said visitors were being evacuated, but some said an unspecified number of people could have been trapped by the blaze.

Fire engulfed a third of the venue building, and its roof is almost completely engulfed in flames, state news agency TASS reported, adding a helicopter has been called in to put out the fire

RIA Novosti, another state news agency, reported the roof of the hall is collapsing.

Extended rounds of gunfire could be heard on multiple videos posted by Russian media and Telegram channels.

More videos showed up to four attackers, armed with assault rifles and wearing caps, who were shooting screaming people at point-blank range.

Another one showed a man inside the auditorium, saying the assailants set it on fire, with incessant gunshots ringing out in the background.

Andrei Vorobyov, the governor of the Moscow region, said he was heading to the area and set up a task force to deal with the damage.

He didn’t immediately offer any further details.

A large black plume of smoke rises above a city scape. Large flames can be seen in the distance.
Smoke rising in the distance above the Crocus City Hall concert venue following Friday night’s attack. (Stringer/Reuters)

Russian media reports said that riot police units were being sent to the area as people were being evacuated.

Special units of Russia’s National Guard have arrived on the scene of a shooting at a concert venue near Moscow on Friday, TASS said.

More than 50 ambulance crews have been sent to the scene, the RIA news agency reported.

‘A monstrous crime’

There were no immediate claims of responsibility for the raid, which is the worst terror attack in Russia in two decades.

Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) said it is taking “all necessary measures” in connection with the shooting, Russian news agency Interfax reported on Friday.

Russian ombudsperson Tatyana Moskalkova called the incident a “terrorist attack.”

Armed security guards, wearing helmets and fatigues, stand in front of a building with the words "Crocus City Hall" on the top. Flames and smoke are rising above the building.
Russian law enforcement officers stand guard near the burning Crocus City Hall concert venue following the reported shooting incident. (Maxim Shemetov/Reuters)

Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova on Friday called on the international community to condemn the shooting incident, calling it “a monstrous crime.”

Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin described the attack as a “huge tragedy.”

He cancelled all mass gatherings in the city for this weekend.

Russian authorities said they had stepped up security measures at Moscow airports and railway stations, agencies reported.

Thick smoke and flames rising out of the top of a large building at night.
Russian state news agency reports a helicopter has been called in to put out a fire at the burning Crocus City Hall concert venue. (Maxim Shemetov/Reuters)

The attack followed a statement issued earlier this month by the U.S. Embassy in Moscow that urged the Americans to avoid crowded places in the Russian capital in view of an imminent attack, a warning that was repeated by several other Western embassies.

White House national security advisor John Kirby said Friday that he couldn’t yet speak about all the details, but that “the images are just horrible. And just hard to watch.”

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