A horrifying scene unfolded at Crocus City Hall near Moscow as gunmen launched a deadly attack on concertgoers, leaving at least 93 dead and 187 injured. The perpetrators also set off explosives, igniting a massive blaze in one of Russia’s deadliest attacks in years.

Three children are among more than 90 people killed after gunmen entered a concert venue near Moscow and opened fire on the crowd – with Islamic State claiming responsibility for the atrocity.

The attackers, wearing combat fatigues, also threw explosives causing a huge blaze at the 6,200-seat Crocus City Hall in the city of Krasnogorsk, 15 miles to the west of the capital.

The number of dead has risen to 93, Russia’s investigative committee said just before 8.30 am on Saturday and added this was likely to rise further.

At least 145 people were also injured in the assault on Friday evening, shortly before the Soviet-era rock group Picnic was due to perform. Of those more than 100 remain in hospital.

Suspects arrested after car chase

Footage taken inside the auditorium showed several insurgents firing automatic weapons as people crouched and hid behind seats.

Video footage also showed concert-goers fleeing for the exits as the sound of shooting echoed over screams.

Russian investigators have published pictures of a Kalashnikov automatic weapon, ammunition vests with multiple spare magazines and bags of spent bullet casings.

In the aftermath, flames leapt into the sky, and plumes of black smoke rose above the venue as hundreds of blue lights from emergency vehicles illuminated the night.

Helicopters sought to douse the fire that engulfed the building and caused parts of the roof to collapse.

It was not immediately clear what happened to the militants after the raid, but Russian politician Alexander Khinshtein said on Telegram two suspects were detained in the Bryansk region following a car chase.

The FSB has since said as many as 11 suspects have been detained in total, via the Russian state news agency, Tass. Four of the arrested suspects are thought to have been directly involved in the attack, the FSB believe.

Putin dismisses US warnings as ‘blackmail’

A US official said Washington had warned Moscow in recent weeks of the possibility of an attack.

National Security Council spokesman Adrienne Watson said: “Earlier this month, the US government had information about a planned terrorist attack in Moscow – potentially targeting large gatherings, to include concerts – which prompted the State Department to issue a public advisory to Americans in Russia.

“The US government also shared this information with Russian authorities in accordance with its longstanding ‘duty to warn’ policy.”

The attack comes days after Russian President Vladimir Putin told the board of the Federal Security Service that “Western structures” had been engaging in “outright blackmail” when they warned Moscow of potential terrorist attacks.

He has repeatedly warned foreign powers were seeking to sow chaos inside Russia.

While US intelligence has confirmed Islamic State’s claim of responsibility for the massacre, Russia has yet to say who it thinks is responsible.

Foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said it was a “bloody terrorist attack” that the entire world should

The US was among many countries to express condolences, while Ukraine has denied any involvement.

The United Nations Security Council has condemned what it called a “heinous and cowardly terrorist attack”.

Why would the Islamic State attack Russia?

Friday’s attack was not the first time Russia has been targeted by Islamist terror, but it was the deadliest in the country since the 2004 Beslan school siege – when Islamist militants took more than 1,000 people, including hundreds of children, hostage.

In October 2002, Chechen militants took around 800 people hostage at a theatre in Moscow which was stormed by Russian special forces two days later, leaving 129 hostages and 41 Chechen fighters dead, most from the effects of the gas Russian forces used to subdue the attackers.

The latest atrocity follows Russia’s intervention against Islamic State in recent years.

Putin changed the course of the Syrian civil war by intervening in 2015, supporting President Bashar al Assad
against the opposition and IS.

In recent weeks the FSB said it had foiled an attack on a Moscow synagogue by an IS affiliate in Afghanistan, known as ISIS-K, which has frequently criticised the Russian leader in its propaganda.

IS claimed its insurgents had attacked the concert venue on Friday “killing and wounding hundreds and causing great destruction to the place before they withdrew to their bases safely”.

In response to the outrage, Russia tightened security at airports and transport hubs across the capital, while all major public events were cancelled nationwide.

Putin, who was re-elected for a new six-year term as president on Sunday, is being regularly updated on the attack response, according to the Kremlin.

Moscow mayor Sergei Sobyanin said: “A terrible tragedy occurred in the shopping centre of Crocus City today.

“I am sorry for the loved ones of the victims.” – news.sky.com

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