Moscow concert attack: ‘Are you sure it’s ISIS?’, Russia asks US

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NEW DELHI: The attack on a concert hall outside Moscow, which left 137 dead and 182 injured in Russia, has sparked a contentious debate regarding the responsible party. While the United States asserts that the Islamic State militant group orchestrated the attack, Russia has cast doubt on this claim.
The deadly terror attack in two decades in Russia occurred at Crocus City Hall on Friday night.Four suspects were detained on charges of terrorism and appeared before Moscow’s Basmanny district court.
Despite Islamic State’s assertion of responsibility and purported footage released by the group, a claim which the United States has publicly said it believed, Russian President Vladimir Putin has refrained from explicitly linking the attackers to the Islamist militant organization.
Instead, Putin suggested that the assailants were attempting to flee to Ukraine, insinuating Ukrainian involvement. Putin said some people on “the Ukrainian side” had been prepared to spirit the gunmen across the border. However, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy vehemently denied these allegations, accusing Putin of deflecting blame.
In response to the US attribution of the attack to Islamic State, Russia’s foreign ministry spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, questioned the veracity of this claim. Zakharova raised doubts about the US assertion, insinuating ulterior motives behind labeling the attackers as part of the extremist group. “Attention – a question to the White House: Are you sure it’s Isis? Might you think again about that?” Zakharova said in an article for the Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper.
She referenced past US involvement with mujahideen fighters in Afghanistan during the Soviet era, hinting at a historical precedent for skepticism.
The gunmen
Putin said 11 people had been detained, including the four suspected gunmen, who fled the concert hall and made their way to the Bryansk region, about 340km (210 miles) southwest of Moscow, to slip across the border to Ukraine.
Unverified videos of the suspects’ interrogations circulated on social media. One of the suspects was shown having part of his ear cut off and stuffed into his mouth.
One man, a Tajik named Dalerdzhon Mirzoyev, leaned against the glass cage as the terrorism charge was read out. Saidakrami Rachabalizoda, his ear in bandages, sat.
Muhammadsobir Fayzov, appeared in gaping hospital clothes and sat in a medical chair, his face covered in cuts. Shamsiddin Fariduni, his face bruised, stood.
Putin ordered a full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, triggering a major European war after eight years of conflict in eastern Ukraine between Ukrainian forces on one side and pro-Russian Ukrainians and Russian proxies on the other.
The U.S. and its European allies have supported Ukraine, extending billions of dollars of money, weapons and intelligence in a bid to defeat Russian forces.
The French government said late on Sunday it was raising its terror alert warning to its highest level following the shootings in Moscow.
(With inputs from agencies)

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