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Russia charges four over concert hall massacre

Russia has charged four people with committing an act of terrorism over Friday’s massacre at Crocus City Hall.

At least 137 people were killed and more than 150 wounded in the assault on the concert hall in the town of Krasnogorsk, on the outskirts of Moscow.

Gunmen stormed the venue, prior to a gig by veteran Russian rock band Picnic, who had been due to perform two shows over the weekend with a symphony orchestra. Around 6,200 people are thought to have been in the hall at the time, and the venue’s roof also collapsed after the attackers set fires which engulfed the venue.

All entertainment and mass events were cancelled across Russia in the wake of the incident, and a day of mourning was observed for the victims. The BBC reports that rescuers are continuing to search the site for further victims, in an operation that will continue through to Tuesday afternoon.

The Islamic State (IS) group has claimed responsibility for the 22 March atrocity – the deadliest terror attack on Russia in two decades – and posted video evidence showing attackers firing on the crowd.

“Isis bears sole responsibility for this attack. There was no Ukrainian involvement whatsoever”

Russia’s state news agency TASS says the four suspects have been officially identified as citizens of Tajikistan and have been remanded in custody until at least 22 May. The men were arrested in the Bryansk region, 400km south-west of the Russian capital, around 14 hours after the attack. All appeared to have been beaten before yesterday’s (24 March) hearing at Basmanny District Court in Moscow.

On 7 March, the US Embassy in Russia issued a security alert saying it was monitoring reports that “extremists” had “imminent plans to target large gatherings in Moscow, to include concerts”.

Russian officials have alleged, without evidence, that Ukraine had “prepared a window” for the terrorists to cross the border from Russia into Ukraine. – a claim Kyiv has dismissed as “absurd”. The US also says that IS “bears sole responsibility”.

“There was no Ukrainian involvement whatsoever,” says US national security council spokesperson Adrienne Watson.

Meanwhile, France has raised its terror level to the highest level, with president Emmanuel Macron stating the group allegedly behind the Russia attack had also recently attempted multiple attacks in France.


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