11 people detained as death toll rises to 93 in Moscow concert hall attack

The latest:

  • Four of 11 people detained were directly involved in the attack, say Russian officials.
  • At least 93 people reported killed, but death toll expected to grow.
  • Worst attack in Russia in nearly two decades.
  • Attack began at Crocus City Hall, a concert venue attached to a large shopping mall in a Moscow suburb.
  • Video shows gunmen in fatigues shooting people with automatic weapons.
  • Moscow mayor cancels all large gatherings, events this weekend.
  • U.S. and Canadian embassies recently urged citizens to avoid crowded areas due to risk of imminent attack.

Eleven people have been detained after gunmen stormed a concert hall in Moscow and opened fire on the crowd, the head of Russia’s Federal Security Service told President Vladimir Putin on Saturday, according to Russian state news agency Tass.

At least 93 people were killed in the attack, including three children, Russian authorities said Saturday. More than 140 others were injured.

Images shared by Russian state media Saturday showed a fleet of emergency vehicles still gathered outside the ruins of Crocus City Hall, a shopping mall and music venue with a capacity of more than 6,000 people in Krasnogorsk on Moscow’s western edge.

Friday’s attack came just days after President Vladimir Putin cemented his grip on power in a highly orchestrated electoral landslide. The attack was the deadliest in Russia in years and came as the country’s fight in Ukraine dragged into a third year.

Videos posted online showed gunmen in the venue shooting civilians at point-blank range.

WATCH | Sounds of gunshots, panic as concert hall attacked: 

Video shows panic, people fleeing as shots heard in Russian concert hall

Video obtained by Reuters from Telegram channel Ostorozhno Novosti on Friday shows people in a concert hall outside Moscow fleeing and shouting ‘close the doors’ amid the sounds of gunfire.

The roof of the theatre, where crowds had gathered Friday for a performance by the Russian rock band Picnic, collapsed in the early hours of Saturday morning as firefighters spent hours fighting a fire that erupted during the attack.

Four of those detained were directly involved in the attack, Tass said.

The Islamic State group (ISIS) claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement posted on affiliated social media channels, although neither the Kremlin nor Russian security services have officially assigned blame.

In a statement posted by its Aamaq news agency, the Islamic State’s affiliate in Afghanistan said it had attacked a large gathering of “Christians” in Krasnogorsk. It was not immediately possible to verify the authenticity of the claim.

However, a U.S. intelligence official told The Associated Press that its agencies had confirmed that ISIS’s affiliate in Afghanistan, known as ISIS-Khorasan or ISIS-K, was responsible for the attack.

WATCH | ISIS-K has been fixated on Russia for the past 2 years: 

Moscow concert hall attack: Why ISIS would target Russia

ISIS is claiming responsibility for a Moscow-area concert hall attack that’s left dozens dead. CBC’s Ben Makuch, a national security reporter who has covered ISIS for more than a decade, explains why the terrorist group would target Russia.

The official said U.S. intelligence agencies had gathered information in recent weeks that the ISIS branch was planning an attack in Moscow, and that U.S. officials had privately shared the intelligence earlier this month with Russian officials.

The official was briefed on the matter but was not authorized to publicly discuss the intelligence information and spoke to Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

Messages of outrage, shock and support for those affected have since streamed in from around the world.

On Friday, the UN Security Council condemned “the heinous and cowardly terrorist attack” and underlined the need for the perpetrators to be held accountable. UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres also condemned the terrorist attack “in the strongest possible terms,” his spokesperson said.

Meanwhile, in Moscow itself, hundreds of people stood in line Saturday morning to donate blood and plasma, Russia’s health ministry said.

WATCH | Massive fires erupts following attack: 

Emergency responders battle blaze at the scene of fatal shooting near Moscow

Following a deadly attack leaving dozens killed at the Crocus City Concert Hall in Krasnogorsk, Russia, emergency crews worked to contain a fire that had sparked in the building.

Putin, who extended his grip on Russia for another six years in this week’s presidential vote after a sweeping crackdown on dissent, had publicly denounced the Western warnings of a potential terrorist attack as an attempt to intimidate Russians.

“All that resembles open blackmail and an attempt to frighten and destabilize our society,” he said earlier this week.

In October 2015, a bomb planted by the Islamic State downed a Russian passenger plane over Sinai, killing all 224 people on board, most of them Russian vacation-goers returning from Egypt.

The group, which operates mainly in Syria and Iraq but also in Afghanistan and Africa, also has claimed several attacks in Russia’s volatile Caucasus and other regions in the past years. It recruited fighters from Russia and other parts of the former Soviet Union.

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