Attack on Moscow concert hall leaves 40 dead and more than 100 injured

MOSCOW — The Federal Security Service Russia said that 40 people were killed and more than 100 injured in an attack on Friday at a Moscow concert hall.

The attack, which Russia's main investigative agency is investigating as a terrorist attack, is the deadliest in recent years.

Several gunmen broke into a large concert hall on the outskirts of Moscow on Friday and shot at those present with automatic weapons, killing and wounding dozens of people and starting a huge fire. Russian media reported that the roof of the place was collapsing.

The attack occurred just days after Vladimir Putin consolidated his control of the country with a highly orchestrated landslide election victory.

Use of explosives

Russian news reports said the attackers threw explosives, causing the massive fire. A video posted on social media showed huge columns of black smoke rising above the building, which can seat more than 6,000 people.

The attack took place as a crowd gathered to attend a performance by Picnic, a famous Russian rock band. Russian news outlets reported that visitors were being evacuated, but some claimed that an unspecified number of people were trapped by the fire.

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According to the prosecution, several men dressed in combat uniforms broke into the concert hall and shot at visitors.

Long bursts of gunfire could be heard in several videos posted by Russian media and Telegram channels. One showed two men with rifles walking through the mall. Another showed a man inside the auditorium, saying that the attackers set the venue on fire, while gunshots could be heard incessantly in the background.

More videos showed up to four attackers, armed with assault rifles and wearing caps, shooting at screaming people at point-blank range.

Andrei Vorobyov, governor of the Moscow region, indicated that he is heading to the area and has created a task force to deal with the damage. He did not offer any further details at this time.

According to Russian media, authorities were sending riot police units to the area while people were being evacuated.

Russian authorities said security was tightened at Moscow airports and railway stations, and Moscow's mayor canceled all mass gatherings scheduled for the weekend.

White House national security adviser John Kirby said Friday that he could not yet discuss all the details but that “the images are just horrifying. And it's hard to watch.”

“Our thoughts are with the victims of this terrible armed attack,” Kirby said. “There are some mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, sons and daughters who have not yet received the news. This will be a difficult day.”