Moscow attack: Russia tells US to ‘think again’ over Islamic State role in concert hall killings

Moscow attack: Russia tells US to ‘think again’ over Islamic State role in concert hall killings

Russia has cast doubt on assertions by the United States that the Islamic State militant group was responsible for the terrorist attack on the Crocus City concert hall outside Moscow that killed at least 137 people and injured 182 others.

On Sunday, Islamic State released new footage of Friday’s deadly attack, corroborating the terror group’s claim to have masterminded the massacre, even as Russia sought to place the blame on Ukraine, which Kyiv denies.

Russia’s foreign ministry spokesperson, Maria Zakharova, called into question US assertions that Islamic State, also known as Isis and which once sought control over swathes of Iraq and Syria, was behind the attack.

“Attention – a question to the White House: Are you sure it’s Isis? Might you think again about that?” Ms Zakharova said in an article for the Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper.

She added the United States, which said it received intelligence that the terror group acted alone, was spreading a version of the “bogeyman” of Islamic State to cover its “wards” in Kyiv.

Russian president Vladimir Putin said 11 suspects had been detained, including four gunmen who carried out the attack, and said anyone else involved in the “bloody, barbaric terrorist act” would be hunted down.

The four alleged gunmen are reportedly from Tajikistan in Central Asia, which borders the Afghanistan base of the Islamic State-Khorasan group, also known as Isis-K, which said it carried out the atrocity and published footage from the concert hall.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, has said it was inappropriate to comment on the investigation into last Friday’s shooting. The Kremlin also left unanswered a question about the treatment of four detained suspects, pictures of whom were circulated showing injuries that appeared to suggest they had been beaten or otherwise physically abused.

The four suspects – identified as Saidakrami Murodali Rachabalizoda, Dalerdzhon Barotovich Mirzoyev, Shamsidin Fariduni and Muhammadsobir Fayzov – were charged on Sunday night and reportedly pleaded guilty.

They were officially identified as citizens of Tajikistan, where Islamic State has recruited heavily.

But despite strong evidence supporting Islamic State’s claim of responsibility, Russian state media is airing unevidenced claims that Ukraine played a part – with Mr Putin, hinting at the same thing.

Dmitry Medvedev, Russia’s former president and prime minister, discussed the suspects charged over the terrorist attack on the Crocus City concert hall on his Telegram channel on Monday. “Do they have to be killed?” he asked. “They have to be. And will be.”

Capital punishment is legal in Russia but no executions have been carried out since 1996, when former president, Boris Yeltsin, issued a decree establishing a de facto moratorium, which was explicitly confirmed by the Constitutional Court in 1999.

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