What happened in Moscow? What we know about the alleged ISIS attack on the Crocus City Hall in Russia

(CNN) — Russia is shocked after the country’s worst terrorist attack in decades.

Nearly a dozen people have been arrested in connection with the massacre, in which armed attackers attacked a popular concert hall complex on the outskirts of the capital, killing more than 130 people.

We know this.

What happened in Russia?

The attackers, armed with guns and incendiary devices, opened fire on Friday night at the Crocus City complex, which houses a popular music venue and shopping centre.

The crowd continued to arrive, but even before the picnic group’s concert the auditorium was filled with people. Reportedly around 6,500 tickets were sold for the show. But instead of a night of rock dancing, complete chaos ensued.

Horrified eyewitnesses captured on video the exact moment men dressed in camouflage uniforms and armed with automatic weapons opened fire indiscriminately. The footage showed concertgoers screaming and hiding behind padded seats, while gunshots echoed through the huge hall and others gathered in the crowd.

Video obtained by CNN shows that during the commotion, a group taking shelter next to a large wall of windows outside the concert hall was forced to break them to avoid gunfire.

An anonymous witness who survived the attack said that the gunmen entered the concert hall and “started shooting everyone.”

“I was sitting upstairs in the hallway, where the balconies were. We heard the sound of bullets. At first we didn’t understand what had happened,” he said in an interview with Ostorozhno Novosti published by Reuters. He said the attackers threw Molotov cocktails and then “everything burned.”

The band’s manager later told state media that the artists were unharmed.

A SWAT team was called to the area and more than 70 ambulance crews and doctors assisted the victims.

Fire was still burning in Crocus City on Saturday and the roof had partially collapsed. The Russian Emergency Ministry said about 500 people were working at the scene to clear debris.

Firefighters extinguish a large blaze at the Crocus City Hall concert hall after the shooting in Krasnogorsk outside Moscow on March 22, 2024.  (Photo by Olga Maltseva/AFP via Getty Images)

Firefighters extinguish a large blaze at the Crocus City Hall concert hall after the shooting in Krasnogorsk outside Moscow on March 22, 2024. (Photo by Olga Maltseva/AFP via Getty Images)

How many are injured?

At least 133 people have died in the massive complex, according to the latest update from Russia’s Investigative Committee on Saturday. Officials say the numbers are likely to continue to rise as emergency responders work the scene.

Additionally, more than 100 people were injured in the incident, many of whom are in critical condition, including two children.

Moscow region governor Andrey Vorobyov said Saturday that victims of the terrorist attack would receive financial compensation from the region and city governments.

Relatives of each of the deceased will receive three million rubles (US$32,500), while the injured and those hospitalized will receive one million rubles (US$10,840).

“Children registered in the Moscow region whose father or mother died in the tragedy will also receive monthly payments. In addition, we will compensate everyone for burial expenses and resolve all legal issues,” Vorobyev said.

A law enforcement officer patrols the scene of a gun attack at the Crocus City Hall concert hall in Krasnogorsk, outside Moscow, on March 23, 2024.  (Stringer/AFP via Getty Images)

A law enforcement officer patrols the scene of a gun attack at the Crocus City Hall concert hall in Krasnogorsk, outside Moscow, on March 23, 2024. (Stringer/AFP via Getty Images)

Who was behind the attack on Crocus City Hall?

Islamic State (ISIS) claimed responsibility for the attack in a brief statement published by ISIS-affiliated Amaq news agency on Telegram on Friday.

The following day, the terrorist group published an image through Amaq showing the four men who attacked the compound. None of the people in the image were recognizable; They were all wearing balaclavas and the rest of their faces were blurred.

ISIS described the attack as “the most brutal in years”, according to a translation of the message from the SITE Intelligence Group, which tracks terrorist groups’ propaganda.

Amaq also gave details of the attack, saying three fighters attacked the crowd gathered at the scene with guns and knives, while a fourth threw incendiary devices. He said an intensive surveillance operation was conducted at the site before the attack.

According to the site translation, he said that “the attack occurs in the general context of the ongoing war between the Islamic State and countries fighting against Islam.”

The United States had earlier warned Moscow that ISIS fighters were determined to attack Russia days before the attackers attacked the concert hall.

Earlier this month, the US Embassy in Russia said it was “following reports that extremists have imminent plans to attack large gatherings in Moscow, including concerts,” and was asking US citizens to avoid such locations. Gave warning to avoid it.

US National Security Council spokeswoman Adrienne Watson said the US government “shared this information with Russian officials in accordance with its long-standing ‘duty to warn’ policy.”

But in a speech on Tuesday, Putin criticized the US warnings as “provocative” and said, “These actions completely resemble blackmail and the intention to intimidate and destabilize our society.”

Experts said the magnitude of the massacre would be extremely embarrassing for the Russian leader, who had endorsed a national security message by winning the country’s rigged elections just a week earlier.

According to government agency RIA Novosti, last month in March alone, Russia has foiled several ISIS-related incidents.

According to RIA, there have been at least four incidents across Russia that local authorities say involve people linked to ISIS.

And what does Russia say?

Putin expressed his deep condolences after the shooting in a video statement released Saturday, calling it a “bloody and barbaric act.”

The President expressed his gratitude to emergency service personnel who “made every effort to save people’s lives, to get them out of the fire, out of the center of the fire and smoke,” and said agencies to establish Was working out the details of the massacre.

Earlier, Russian state media reported that security service head Alexander Bortnikov had told the Russian leader that 11 people had been detained in connection with the attack.

According to TASS and other state media, the Kremlin said four people directly involved in the attack were arrested while trying to cross the border into Ukraine.

Later, RIA published a man’s alleged confession on Telegram. In a short video, a man with his head bandaged and covered in blood speaks in broken Russian. He gives his name and age as 30 years. When asked where he left the weapons after the attack, he replied: “I don’t know the city, ask my friends, they know.”

CNN cannot independently verify the veracity of the RIA Novosti report or the alleged attacker’s statements, which may have been made under duress.

RIA also published photos of three of the alleged attackers after they were detained, photos that match videos uploaded to unofficial channels early Saturday showing people being detained in the south-western region of Bryansk .

No images or video of the fourth alleged attacker have been published in Russian state media.

RIA said one of the alleged attackers had mentioned returning to Russia from Turkey earlier this month.

He also reported that the group lived together in a hostel in northern Moscow and that at least two of the four criminals had met only “10 or 12 days ago”. The car they drove to the Krokus Town Hall and then used to escape was purchased through a relative.

Putin also appeared to blame Ukraine for the deadly attack in his video message on Saturday, when he claimed a “window” had been created for the attackers to escape to Ukraine.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Telegram: “Now we know in which country these persecuted bastards were planning to hide: Ukraine.”

Ukraine strongly denied any involvement. Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry said on Friday: “We consider such accusations a planned provocation by the Kremlin to further fuel anti-Ukrainian hysteria in Russian society, creating conditions for further mobilization of Russian citizens to participate in aggression. It is criminal and defamatory against our country.” “Ukraine in the eyes of the international community.”

Ukraine’s Defense Intelligence Service claimed on Friday, without providing evidence, that the attack was planned by Russian special services to justify escalating attacks against Ukraine.

What has the international response been?

Condemnation of the attack by world leaders was swift. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Saturday that the United States “strongly” condemned the massacre, while also expressing “our deepest condolences to the families and loved ones of those killed and all those affected by this heinous crime.”

On behalf of the United Kingdom, British Foreign Secretary David Cameron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz had similar sentiments, stating that their country’s “thoughts are with the families of all the victims and all the injured.”

Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk said in a post on Twitter that his country hoped the attack would not become “an excuse for anyone to escalate violence and aggression.” Meanwhile, French President Emmanuel Macron expressed solidarity with all Russians, while Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman also condemned the attack.

Chinese leader Xi Jinping on Saturday “expressed his condolences to Putin over the serious terrorist attack that killed many people,” according to a report by Chinese state media.

Meanwhile, the UN Security Council described it as a “heinous and cowardly” attack, while Secretary-General Antonio Guterres condemned the incident “in the strongest terms”.

CNN’s Anna Chernova, Daria Tarasova, Tim Lister, Maria Knight, Mia Alberti, Jennifer Hauser, Paul Murphy, Matthew Chance, Mary Kay Maloney, Kathryn Grice, Chris Lau and Samantha Waldenberg contributed reporting.

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