• Tuesday, May 28, 2024
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Moscow attack: Putin vows to track down perpetrators as death toll rises to 133

A Russia-NATO conflict just a step to World War III, Putin warns

President Vladimir Putin has said the Friday concert massacre in Moscow, was a barbaric act of terrorism, pledging to punish and track down those behind the terror attack.

The Russian president made these known in a State address on Saturday in Moscow, the country’s capital, a day after at least 133 people were confirmed dead from the violence.

BusinessDay reported how, on Friday, gunmen in camouflage clothing opened fire on people at a concert in the Crocus City Hall near Moscow.

Several Russian media outlets reported that automatic weapons were used in what many have described as “one of the worst such attacks in Russia in years.”

At least five gunmen were shown in unverified videos firing repeatedly at screaming civilians cowering in the concert hall as Soviet-era rock group “Picnic” was about to perform, according to Reuters.

While addressing Russians in a five-minute televised  broadcast, Putin said 11 people had been detained, including the suspected four gunmen, vowing to bring down the perpetrators “whoever they may be, whoever may have sent them.”

“They tried to hide and moved towards Ukraine, where, according to preliminary data, a window was prepared for them on the Ukrainian side to cross the state border,” he said.

Even as Militant Islamist group, Islamic State claimed responsibility for Friday’s rampage, there were indications that Russia was pursuing a Ukrainian link, despite emphatic denials from Ukrainian officials that Kyiv had nothing to do with it.

The regional governor of Moscow Andrei Vorobyov said 133 bodies had been recovered from the rubble in 24 hours and doctors were “fighting for the lives of 107 people”.

State TV editor Margarita Simonyan, without citing a source, had earlier given a toll of 143, Reuters said.

Ukrainian military intelligence spokesperson Andriy Yusov told Reuters: “Ukraine was of course not involved in this terror attack. Ukraine is defending its sovereignty from Russian invaders, liberating its own territory and is fighting with the occupiers’ army and military targets, not civilians.”

Meanwhile, a senior Russian lawmaker, Andrei Kartapolov, said that if Ukraine was involved, then Russia must deliver a “worthy, clear and concrete” reply on the battlefield.

Western nations, including the United States whose ties with Moscow have been fraught since its invasion of Ukraine, condemned the attack and expressed sympathy for the Russian people affected.

Arab powers and many former Soviet republics also expressed shock and sent their condolences.

Also, Chinese President, Xi Jinping, sent condolences to Russian President Vladimir Putin on Saturday, saying China opposes all forms of terrorism and strongly condemns terrorist attacks.

Nigeria’s minister of Foreign Affairs, Yusuf Tuggar, in a statement personally signed, conveyed Nigeria’s deepest sympathy and condolences to the Russian president.

The White House said the U.S. government shared information with Russia early this month about a planned attack in Moscow, and issued a public advisory to Americans in Russia on March 7. It said Islamic State bore sole responsibility for the attack.

“There was no Ukrainian involvement whatsoever,” U.S. National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson told Reuters on Saturday.

But Russia’s ambassador to the United States, Anatoly Antonov, said early on Sunday the U.S. had not shared any specific information with the embassy before the shooting.

“No specific information, nothing was given to us,” Antonov said, according to Russia’s TASS state news agency. He said there has also been no contact after the attack.

“We are counting here on cooperation with all countries that genuinely share our pain and are ready, in their deeds, to truly unite our efforts in the fight against the common enemy of international terrorism,” Putin said.

He declared Monday a national day of mourning and said that security measures were being tightened across Russia.

“The main thing now is to prevent those who were behind this bloody massacre from committing new crimes,” Putin added.