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40 killed as gunmen attack concertgoers in Moscow after US Embassy warnings

"Friday's attack on Crocus City Hall comes less than a week after Russian President Vladimir Putin appeared to win re-election to a six-year term in a landslide victory with no meaningful opposition, in what many described as an unfair and unfree sham election"

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Just west of Moscow, three attackers dressed in military fatigues stormed into the Crocus City Hall music venue. They started firing automatic guns and hurling an explosive device, according to Russian state media agency, RIA Novosti.

Some photographs and footage from the music hall showed the structure on fire, while another showed men dressed in camouflage entering the venue and beginning to shoot inside. Concertgoers were observed fleeing for safety in the auditorium’s aisles.

According to Russian state outlets, which cited the country’s security agency, the incident claimed at least 40 lives and left over 100 injured.

Furthermore, RIA stated that the fire had spread to the building’s roof and was, according to an agency correspondent, “getting stronger.”

Multiple casualties were reported by the Russian state news agency TASS, which quoted eyewitnesses; officials also told RIA that numerous injured people were being transported to neighboring hospitals.

The Associated Press reported that the fire had trapped numerous individuals inside the venue, while Russian state news agency TASS claimed that evacuation efforts were underway. According to Russia’s Ministry of Emergency Situations, approximately 100 individuals were rescued from the building’s basement.

Just over two weeks ago, the US Embassy in Moscow issued a warning to Americans living in the Russian city to avoid large events, such as concerts, for the next 48 hours.

The embassy warned that it is “monitoring reports that extremists have imminent plans to target large gatherings in Moscow,” but did not provide any specific reasons for its concern.

Authorities have not yet revealed the identities of the gunmen or provided an explanation for the attack. The incident was described as an apparent terrorist act by the Associated Press.

The shooting at Crocus City Hall targeted the Russian rock group Picnic, who were performing at night. According to TASS, no band members were injured in the event.

Friday’s attack on Crocus City Hall comes less than a week after Russian President Vladimir Putin appeared to win re-election to a six-year term in a landslide victory with no meaningful opposition, in what many described as an unfair and unfree sham election.

Putin claimed to have won 87% of the vote, defeating three other minor contenders.

It was also Putin’s first election since Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, a war that has prompted outrage among Western leaders, and as Kremlin officials confront internal opposition following the untimely death of late Putin opponent Alexei Navalny in a Russian prison.

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