'Crypto King' Freed From Montenegro Prison To Shelter Facility Amid Extradition Battle

'Crypto King' Freed From Montenegro Prison To Shelter Facility Amid Extradition Battle

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Rescuers pulled more bodies from the rubble of a Moscow-area concert hall on March 23, as the death toll from a deadly attack claimed by the Islamic State (IS) militant group reached 133 and security officials said that four suspected gunmen had been detained in connection with the Russian attack. the worst terrorist violence in almost two decades.

Russian officials said all the suspects were foreign nationals and that 11 people in total had been detained.

President Vladimir Putin condemned it as a “barbaric and bloody terrorist attack” and said in a videotaped speech released by the Kremlin that “the main thing now is to prevent those behind this bloodbath from committing a new crime.”

Later, after US officials repeatedly condemned it as a “heinous” attack, the White House called the Islamic State a “common terrorist enemy.”

The day after camouflaged gunmen stormed Crocus City Hall and opened fire on people waiting for the start of a concert, search teams were still searching for victims in the rubble of the hall. More than 120 people were injured and remained hospitalized in various conditions, health officials said.

The Ministry of Emergency Situations released the names of 29 of the 133 people known to have died so far, and Moscow Region Governor Andrei Vorobyov warned that the death toll could still rise “significantly.”

Hundreds of mourners solemnly piled flowers, stuffed animals and messages of grief or defiance on the sidewalk just outside the Crocus City Hall building.

More makeshift memorials sprang up in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Yekaterinburg, and many other Russian cities to honor the victims, including flowers, candles, and messages to the victims' families. In some places, flags flew at half-mast above government buildings.

At the excavated site of one of the deadliest acts of terrorism in modern Russian history, School No. 1 in Beslan, southern Russia, where 333 people, mostly schoolchildren, were murdered after being held hostage for three days in 2004, the Russians spelled “Moscow we are in mourning” with candles.

Some pro-Putin officials have already raised the issue of reinstate capital punishment in response to the attacks.

The chairman of the constitutional law committee of Russia's upper house, Andrei Klishas, ​​sparked more such conversations on Telegram by saying that no chamber of parliament can “overcome the decisions of the Constitutional Court.”

The death penalty remains in the Russian Constitution, but has been under an indefinite moratorium for almost three decades, including since the Constitutional Court in 2009 effectively banned lower courts from ordering executions.

In his recorded speech, Putin also echoed earlier suggestions from other Russian officials about Ukraine's involvement, saying that the four suspected gunmen “tried to hide and were heading towards Ukraine, where, according to preliminary information, the Ukrainian side had prepared a window so they could escape.” cross the border.”

Putin did not provide any evidence to support the claim.

Ukrainian officials have repeatedly denied any involvement.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy accused Putin of trying to “blame someone else.” Alluding to previous violent incidents in Russia, he said: “It already happened. And there were blown up houses, shootings and explosions. And they always blame others.”

The Islamic State (IS) militant group issued a statement of responsibility shortly after the attack and on March 23 released pixelated photographs of four men it claimed were the attackers.

The group said they had dealt a “strong blow” with assault rifles and explosives by attacking “Christians” as part of a “raging war” against countries fighting Islam.

“The attack was carried out by four IS fighters armed with machine guns, a pistol, knives and incendiary bombs,” IS said via Telegram.

The hall is a popular concert venue in an upscale district on the outskirts of Moscow that attracts major Russian musical artists.

The deaths were caused by gunshot wounds or asphyxiation, apparently from burning materials, said the investigation committee, adding that the number of victims is likely to increase. The attackers used an unspecified flammable substance to set fire to the scene, the committee said.

The Russian Investigative Committee said it was rewarding a man for his “incomparable bravery” when he “selflessly neutralized one of the terrorists” while trying to protect his wife, “saving the lives of the people around him.” He did not further identify the man.

The identities and motives of the attackers remain unclear. Aleksandr Bortnikov, director of the Federal Security Service (FSB), was quoted by Russian news agencies as saying that 11 people had been detained, including four of the suspected gunmen.

The Russian Interior Ministry later said the Crocus attackers were foreign citizens.

Anonymous officials and Telegram channels known for their links to security services suggested that several of the attackers could have been Tajiks or Russian citizens with Tajik backgrounds. He reports It sparked a reaction from Tajikistan's Foreign Ministry, which denied the reports and published detailed information about several of the men whose names were circulating.

Russian state broadcaster Channel One TV showed footage of the interrogation of four men it said were suspects and a white Renault car they allegedly used in their escape effort. The daytime video followed his capture in Khatsun, the station said.

The attack began around 7:30 pm local time when camouflaged men armed with automatic rifles arrived at the scene in a minivan. According to Russian media, up to five men were involved.

A man who escaped the attack told Current Time that the shooting began moments before the concert began.

“It was supposed to start when we heard what I thought were fireworks or gunshots inside the venue,” the witness, identified only as Dave, said in a telephone interview. “A moment later, we saw below us a stream of people running into the hallway. After that, shots were heard inside. [the hall]. Of course, the panic also started on the balcony. “People didn't know where to run.”

Hours after the incident began, Telegram channels affiliated with the Islamic State said the attackers had “withdrawn safely to their bases,” although that claim could not be independently confirmed.

US officials confirmed the authenticity of the IS claim in comments to multiple US media outlets.

On March 7, the United States embassy in Moscow had warned Russia that the “extremists” had imminent plans for an attack on the capital.

On the same day as the US Embassy's announcement, the Federal Security Service said it had stopped an attack on a Moscow synagogue by the Islamic State affiliate in Afghanistan, known as Islamic State-Khorasan (IS-K). .

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken expressed “our deepest condolences to the families and loved ones of those murdered and to all those affected by this heinous crime” and said: “We condemn terrorism in all its forms and stand in solidarity with the people of Russia in their mourning”. the loss of life due to this horrible event.

On March 23, German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser told the newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung that “based on everything that is known so far, it can be assumed that the terrorist group Islamic State Khorasan Province (IS-K) is responsible for the “murderous terrorist attack near Moscow.”

World leaders also condemned the attack.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was quoted as saying he “condemns in the strongest possible terms” the incident, and the United States, France, Turkey, Italy, the European Union and other leaders also issued statements deploring the violence.

The attack was the worst in Russia since 2004, when gunmen took more than 1,000 hostages at a Beslan school and ultimately killed 333 people, almost half of them children.

With information from the Tajik service of RFE/RL and Reuters, AFP and dpa

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