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Suspect Terror Attack At Crocus Hall, Moscow

Image credit: local witness 


02.30 a.m.

Russian media Meduza reports that one of the victims was found to have an explosive device masked as a cardiac monitor and a stuffed belt around his torso. The device has now been neutralised by artificers on the scene. Police are working to identify the deceased, as it is alleged he was one of the terrorists. 

12.30 a.m.

Terrorist group ISIS claims responsibility for the attack, although no concrete proof has been found by Russian law enforcement. 

All five gunmen have reportedly escaped, and police searches continue. 

12.00 a.m.

Russian Special Services have ruled out the involvement of Ukraine or ISIS in the terror attack, as reported by a close source to news outlet Vazhnye Istorii. Police have not yet confirmed the source of the incident. 

Governor of the Moscow region Andrei Vorobyev appointed an operative task force to deal with the attack with representatives from most law enforcement agencies. 

11.30 p.m.

Officials listed on Russian social media VKontakte preventative measures locals should follow to decrease the risk of poisoning caused by the fire, such as minimising the time spent outdoors and closing all windows and doors. 

All university classes in the area have been cancelled for the weekend. 

Journalists are being pushed away from Crocus Hall, with some reporting to have been beaten by members of the police. 

11.00 p.m. 

The fire at Crocus Hall is being extinguished by 320 firefighters and three helicopters. The Emergency Ministry has not yet confirmed if the situation is stable at this moment.

The interior minister Vladimir Kolokoltsev, the head of the Investigative Committee Alexander Bastrykin and the governor of the Moscow region Andrei Vorobyev arrived at the site. 

People gathered in front of the Hall are being detained; it is unclear at this moment if they are related to the terrorist attacks.

10.30 p.m.

A concert at Sevkabel in St. Petersburg was interrupted and the audience is being evacuated as a precautionary measure. Shopping centres in both St. Petersburg and Moscow are also being evacuated after an unidentified black box was found in the Galereya mall.

The car used by the attackers to reach the venue—reported to be a white sedan—is still parked at Crocus Hall. Police are checking for possible explosives in or around it. 

Crocus Hall security officers were not equipped with firearms and they are reported to be among the first victims.

Representatives of pro-Ukrainian units—"Russian Volunteer Corps" and "Freedom of Russia"—declared they were not involved in the attack. Mykhaylo Podolyak, adviser to the head of the Ukrainian's president office, also declared Ukraine's non-involvement in the incident. 

The Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation opened a criminal case for terrorism. 

About 3,000 square metres of Crocus Hall are on fire, with the roof in the stage area of the building starting to collapse, as reported by RIA Novosti. 

10 p.m.

Special forces are searching for the four missing attackers reported to have escaped. One of them is headed to a neighbourhood about 2 kilometres from Crocus Hall. Citizens have been advised to lock themselves indoors until further instructions. 

Russian Railways as well as airports in the region have increased safety measures. 

Public spaces in and around Moscow are being evacuated and the city's mayor called for all sporting, cultural and other mass events
to be cancelled for the weekend. 

8 p.m. 

On March 22, at about 8 p.m. local time (5 p.m. GMT), at least five gunmen in camo suits assaulted Crocus City Hall, a popular shopping area in the satellite town of Krasnogorsk, near Moscow. The area is a local favourite to shop and meet, with many commercial and political landmarks being targeted, including a large car expo centre, a concert hall, the biggest shopping centre in Russia, a Walmart, offices of the Moscow regional government and the local courthouse.

At the time of publication, the attack is currently ongoing, with at least 100 people believed to be locked inside the venue and 40 confirmed dead. Witnesses report that the attackers fired automatic weapons at panicked civilians before setting fire to the Hall. Over 50 ambulances, firefighters and police are on the scene, but they are struggling to enter as they are being targeted by the shooters. Russia, and Moscow in particular, are no strangers to terror attacks, but the country has not seen a major shooting such as today’s in at least two decades.

Special forces have entered the building, but four attackers are reported to have escaped in the crowd. 

The motivations of the attack are unclear as of now, more updates will be added when new information becomes available.

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