Moscow terror attack: Gunmen were recruited via messaging app from Tajikistan?

Suburban Moscow music hall attacked by gunmen, death toll surpasses 130. Russian authorities arrest suspects trying to escape to Ukraine, but Kyiv denies involvement. IS claims responsibility, Putin refrains from mentioning IS in address.

Mausam Jha
Published24 Mar 2024, 02:46 PM IST
A Russian national flag is seen lowered on the headquarters of State Duma, the lower house of parliament, on the day of mourning, declared following a deadly shooting in the Crocus City Hall concert hall, in Moscow, Russia  March 24, 2024.  REUTERS/Shamil Zhumatov
A Russian national flag is seen lowered on the headquarters of State Duma, the lower house of parliament, on the day of mourning, declared following a deadly shooting in the Crocus City Hall concert hall, in Moscow, Russia March 24, 2024. REUTERS/Shamil Zhumatov(REUTERS)

The suburban Moscow music hall, targeted by gunmen in a deadly attack on concert attendees, lay in ruins on Saturday, with the death toll reaching 133.

Meanwhile, Russian authorities have arrested four suspects, who President Vladimir Putin stated were caught attempting to escape to Ukraine. Despite the allegations, Kyiv vehemently denied any connection to the assault at the Crocus City Hall music venue in Krasnogorsk on Friday.

However, Kyiv accused Putin and other Russian politicians of falsely implicating Ukraine in the assault to bolster support for Russia's ongoing war in Ukraine, now in its third year.

Are Tajiks involved?

As reported by AP, Russian media aired videos purportedly depicting the detention and questioning of the suspects involved in the attack. One of the suspects, shown on camera, claimed that he was recruited via a messaging app by an unidentified assistant to an Islamic preacher and was paid to participate in the raid.

Also Read: Moscow concert attack: ISIS releases bodycam footage; netizens say ‘extremely graphic’

According to Russian news reports, the gunmen were identified as citizens of Tajikistan, a predominantly Muslim former Soviet republic in Central Asia that shares a border with Afghanistan.

Tajik Influx 

An estimated 1.5 million Tajiks are believed to have migrated to Russia in search of employment opportunities, with a significant number acquiring Russian citizenship in the process.

According to a report from Statista, in 2022, Tajikistan emerged as the primary source country for immigrants to Russia, with approximately 186.6 thousand individuals relocating to Russia. Interestingly, all of the top 10 origin countries were former republics of the Soviet Union.

What are Putin's claims?

Putin claimed that the attackers attempted to escape into Ukraine after statements made by Russian legislators who promptly accused Ukraine in the aftermath of the attack.

Also Read: Moscow concert attack: ISIS claims responsiblity; US warned Russia about possible risk of ‘extremists’. 10-point

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy dismissed Moscow's accusations as a ploy by Putin and his associates to deflect blame onto Ukraine while disregarding the welfare of their citizens and considering them as “expendables”.

What did IS say?

The IS, which saw a significant reduction in its territory following Russia's military intervention in Syria, has consistently aimed its attacks at Russia.

According to a statement released by IS's Afghanistan branch through its Aamaq news agency, the group claimed responsibility for targeting a sizable assembly of individuals identified as “Christians” in Krasnogorsk.

Also Read: Moscow attack: Video shows terrorists shot people point-blank, threw incendiary bombs | Watch

The group issued a new statement Saturday on Aamaq saying the attack was carried out by four men who used automatic rifles, a pistol, knives and firebombs. It said the assailants fired at the crowd and used knives to kill some concertgoers, casting the raid as part of IS's ongoing war with countries that it says are fighting Islam.

IS strikes in Russia's history

The IS has conducted attacks in Russia, including the downing of a passenger plane over Sinai in October 2015, resulting in the deaths of 224 individuals, mainly Russian vacationers returning from Egypt.

Additionally, IS has claimed responsibility for various attacks in Russia's volatile Caucasus and other regions, recruiting fighters from Russia and other parts of the former Soviet Union.

ISIS-K

The group's Afghanistan affiliate is known as ISIS-K or IS-K, named after Khorasan Province, a historical region encompassing Afghanistan, Iran, and Central Asia.

The affiliate has thousands of fighters who have repeatedly carried out attacks in Afghanistan since the country was seized in 2021 by the Taliban, a group with which they are at bitter odds.

ISIS-K, perpetrated the suicide bombing at Kabul airport in August 2021, resulting in the deaths of 13 American troops and approximately 170 Afghans during the tumultuous US withdrawal.

Additionally, they claimed responsibility for a bomb attack during a memorial procession in Kerman, Iran, in January, which claimed the lives of 95 people. 

(With inputs from AP)

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First Published:24 Mar 2024, 02:46 PM IST
HomeNewsWorldMoscow terror attack: Gunmen were recruited via messaging app from Tajikistan?

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