/ 25 March 2024

Russia’s ready for retribution

Crocus City Hall terror attack Moscow

The Squiz

Russian President Vladimir Putin says 11 people have been detained over a terrorist attack at a rock concert in Moscow on Friday night that left at least 137 people dead and over 150 wounded. It’s the deadliest attack in Russia in 20 years, and reports say the death toll will continue to rise. Witnesses say 4 gunmen entered the Crocus City Hall music venue and fired indiscriminately before setting it alight, causing large sections of the building to collapse. Survivors have begun sharing their experiences, with one woman saying, “I fell to the floor and pretended to be dead.” On Saturday, the UN Security Council called the attack “heinous and cowardly”.

Who are the attackers?

Islamic State’s ISIS-K branch has claimed responsibility – that’s backed up by US intelligence sources who warned Russia on 7 March that “extremists” had “imminent plans to target large gatherings in Moscow”. In the days before the attack, Putin dismissed the warning as “provocative statements” from the West intended to “intimidate and destabilise our society”. He has not responded to ISIS-K’s claim but says the terrorists planned to escape to Ukraine and that its government may have been involved. Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky and US officials have rejected that… As for ISIS-K, it’s based in Afghanistan and has a history of attacking Russia because it’s “complicit in activities that regularly oppress Muslims”. That includes Russia’s involvement in the Syrian war that largely drove Islamic State out and its long history of fighting Chechnyan Muslim separatists.

So what now?

In a televised address, Putin declared Sunday a national day of mourning and condemned the “barbaric terrorist attack”. He said the 4 gunmen “have been found and detained” and have “only one unenviable fate: retribution and oblivion”. Locally, some say lax security is to blame and point out that it took 1.5 hours to deploy special forces to the site because of traffic jams… There is also commentary that the attack gives Putin a further excuse to monitor locals and further restrict their freedoms. As for claims Ukraine is involved, senior Russian lawmaker Andrei Kartapolov says if it is the case, Russia must deliver a “worthy, clear and concrete” reply on the battlefield. Overnight, reports say Russian missile attacks on Ukraine have stepped up. To be continued… 

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