Friday, May 24, 2024

At least 40 killed, more than 100 wounded in Moscow concert hall shooting

(Al Jazeera Media Network) Gunmen burst into a big concert hall in Moscow and fired automatic weapons at the crowd, killing 40 people and wounding more than 100, according to Russia’s state news agency TASS, citing the Federal Security Service (FSB).

Russian news reports said the assailants also used explosives, causing a massive blaze at the Crocus City Hall on the western edge of Moscow on Friday.

Russia’s Ministry of Health said some of those injured have already been admitted to medical facilities.

A video posted on social media showed huge plumes of black smoke rising over the building in the Krasnogorsk suburb in the north of the Russian capital, which can hold several thousand people and has hosted top international artists.

Russian media reported that three to five people in combat fatigues had fired weapons into the crowd who were attending a concert of the rock band “Picnic”.

A journalist for the RIA Novosti news agency who was at the scene said the gunmen opened automatic fire and threw a grenade or incendiary bomb. Fire quickly spread through the concert hall.

“People who were in the hall were led on the ground to protect themselves from the shooting for 15 or 20 minutes,” the journalist was quoted as saying.

People started crawling out when it was safe, the journalist reported, adding that security forces were at the scene.

Russian rescue services have evacuated about 100 people from the basement of the Crocus City Hall, but there are still people on the roof, Russian news agencies reported.

Media reports said firefighting crews were trying to localize the fire, while the National Guard was searching for the assailants.

Russia’s ombudsman, Moskalkova, called the shooting an “act of terrorism”, according to RIA Novosti, while Moscow mayor Sergei Sobyanin announced the cancellation of all public events planned this weekend in the Russian capital.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova called on the international community to condemn the incident, calling it “a monstrous crime.”

The White House said that the images of shooting in the Russian capital were “horrible and just hard to watch.”

Ukraine’s presidential aide Mykhailo Podolyak said Ukraine was not involved in the shooting on his Telegram channel.

“Regarding the events in Crocus City in the Russian suburbs, where certain events took place today, some shooting, some terrorist actions by unidentified persons, let’s be clear, Ukraine absolutely has nothing to do with these events,” he said.

“There is no indication at this time that Ukraine or Ukrainians were involved in the shooting,” U.S. National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby also told reporters. “I would disabuse you at this early hour of any connection to Ukraine.”

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