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Russia Strengthens Security, Vows to Combat Terrorism Following Moscow Concert Hall Shooting

By Xinhua|Mar 26,2024

Russia is reeling from a bloody terrorist attack in Moscow, a tragedy that has prompted a significant tightening of security measures nationwide.

This photo taken in Moscow, Russia on March 23, 2024 shows screens displaying Russian President Vladimir Putin speaking in a televised address to the nation. (Photo/Cao Yang, Xinhua)

Beijing - Russia is reeling from a bloody terrorist attack in Moscow, a tragedy that has prompted a significant tightening of security measures nationwide.

According to the country's emergencies ministry, the death toll has risen to 137 and more than 180 have been injured as of Monday, one day after Russia observed a nationwide mourning for the victims.

Deadliest terrorist attack in Russia in nearly 20 years

The incident marked the deadliest attack in Russia in nearly two decades. Search efforts for the victims continue.

Moscow Region Governor Andrey Vorobyov said Saturday that after rescuers pulled 133 bodies from the rubble of the Crocus City Hall, local authorities have managed to tentatively establish the identities of 50 victims.

Smoke from fire rises above the burning Crocus City Hall concert venue following a shooting incident in the northwest of Moscow, Russia, on March 22, 2024. (Photo/Cao Yang, Xinhua)

"Identification by relatives is ahead. In hospitals, doctors are fighting for the lives of 107 people," Vorobyov wrote on Telegram, according to Sputnik.

Across the country, Russia has fortified security measures as investigations into who is responsible for the attack are still underway.

In the wake of the terrorist attack, Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin announced the cancellation of all large gatherings within the city for the upcoming weekend. Similarly, Leningrad Oblast, Arkhangelsk Oblast, and several other places also canceled entertainment offerings, cultural events, and other public activities.

Russian railways, civil aviation, and other departments announced an increase in security inspections.

Hundreds in Moscow lined up on Saturday to donate blood following the deadly attack. An anonymous female donor told Xinhua that she is a regular blood donor and feels an even stronger compulsion to donate blood in the face of the current situation.

"I hope such a tragedy never happens again, but since it has occurred, I am more than willing to offer my help," she said.

No need to rush to conclusions

Regarding those who should be held accountable for the attack, Russian Ambassador to the United States Anatoly Antonov told Sputnik that there is no need to rush to conclusions.

"Competent Russian authorities will figure out who organized this terrorist act. I think there is no need to rush to conclusions today ... this kind of work requires silence," Antonov said.

He also mentioned that the U.S. government did not contact the Russian embassy after the shooting. "There were no contacts," he said, adding "the greatest evil is terrorism."

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova wrote on Telegram that over the decades, U.S. political elites have learned how to skillfully divert attention from high-profile crimes and all sorts of staging.

Therefore, until the investigation into the terrorist attack on Crocus City Hall is completed, any words from Washington justifying Kiev should be considered as evidence, she wrote.

In a speech on Saturday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that the Ukrainian side was preparing a "window" for the perpetrators to cross the border based on preliminary information.

Advisor to the head of the Ukrainian Presidential Office Mikhail Podolyak and the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry both rejected allegations of Ukraine's involvement in the attack.

The Islamic State (IS) group said Saturday that the attack was "carried out by four IS fighters armed with machine guns, a pistol, knives and firebombs."

"ISIS bears sole responsibility for this attack," White House National Security Council spokeswoman Adrienne Watson said Saturday in a statement, adding that "there was no Ukrainian involvement whatsoever."

Issues regarding assisting Russia in investigating the terrorist attack and the possible involvement of the IS in the attack will be raised and discussed at one of the upcoming meetings of the UN Security Council, Voronkov Vladimir, the UN counter-terrorism chief, told Sputnik.

Joining forces to fight against terrorism

All four suspects have been charged with terrorism and could face a life sentence, according to Moscow's Basmanny district court. They were ordered to be held in pretrial custody until May 22.

After the deadly shooting, world leaders voiced strong condemnation of the terrorist attack and expressed sympathy for the victims.

Putin talked with his counterparts from Türkiye, Syria, and Tajikistan, among other countries, over the phone to discuss the attack.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan stressed the urgent need for closer bilateral cooperation in combating terrorism.

"Terrorists have no nationality, no homeland and no religion," said Tajik President Emomali Rahmon, according to a statement from the president's office.

The United Nations Security Council on Friday condemned "in the strongest terms the heinous and cowardly terrorist attack" and expressed "deepest sympathy and condolences" to the families of the victims and the Russian people.

Terrorism in all its forms and manifestations constitutes one of the most serious threats to international peace and security, it said.

(Xinhua reporters Jiang Youli, Zhao Bing and Liu Kai in Moscow also contributed to the story.)

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