Terrorist Attack at Moscow Concert Hall

Gunmen shot concertgoers and set a music venue on fire just outside of Moscow on Friday. One hundred thirty-seven people were killed and 182 were injured, Russia’s Federal Investigative Committee said, making it one of the deadliest terrorist attacks on Russian soil in decades.

The shooting lasted for nearly an hour, and the fire, which ignited after attackers set off explosives, caused the roof of the venue to collapse.

Perpetrators: The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack and released footage of gunmen filming themselves as they searched for victims in the lobby of the concert hall.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, however, blamed Ukraine. In a speech to the nation, Putin claimed Ukraine had “prepared a window” for the terrorists to cross the border into Ukraine and hide. He made no mention of the Islamic State.

Ukraine immediately denied the accusation.

The United States also contested Putin’s claim, saying the White House had warned Russia earlier this month of a planned attack by the Islamic State on Moscow.

There was no Ukrainian involvement whatsoever.
—Adrienne Watson, U.S. National Security Council spokesperson

On trial: Russian authorities said they detained 11 attackers, four of whom were placed on trial on Sunday. Moscow’s Basmanny district court charged the four suspects, citizens of the ex-Soviet republic of Tajikistan, with acts of terrorism and sentenced them to life in prison.

Russian media circulated unverified videos of brutal interrogations of the suspects and images of them in the courtroom.

  • One suspect was brought into the courtroom in a wheelchair, reportedly missing an eye.
  • Another had a bandage over his right ear.
  • Another had a black eye and a ripped plastic bag around his neck.
  • The fourth had a swollen face and struggled to keep his eyes open.

Putin’s resolve: With most of Russia’s military focus devoted to Ukraine, other groups or separatist states may be trying to take advantage of the situation. To avoid looking weak, Putin will likely strengthen his resolve to finish his military campaign against Ukraine even quicker. He shows no signs of giving in.

Learn more: Read “As War Hits Two-Year Mark, Capture of Avdiivka Gives Russia Notable Win.”