Russians Mourn Victims, Lower Flags After Concert Hall Attack Tragedy

Russia mourned on Sunday as flags flew at half-mast following a horrific attack at a rock concert near Moscow, marking the deadliest assault on Russian soil in two decades.

President Vladimir Putin declared a national day of mourning, vowing to hunt down and punish all responsible for the tragedy. The assault, which occurred on Friday evening, saw 137 individuals killed, including three children, with another 180 wounded. Over 100 remained hospitalized, some in critical condition. Putin personally paid respects by lighting a candle at a church near Moscow to honor the victims.

The attack, claimed by Daesh, targeted concertgoers at the Crocus City Hall. Armed assailants stormed the venue just before a performance by the Soviet-era rock group Picnic. Witnesses described scenes of chaos and terror as gunmen fired automatic weapons, causing panic and devastation among the crowd. The incident surpassed the Beslan school siege in 2004 as the deadliest on Russian soil, further shaking the nation already grappling with grief and shock.

In response to the attack, Putin publicly addressed the nation, expressing deep condolences to the families of the victims. While Daesh claimed responsibility, Putin refrained from explicitly linking the militant group to the attackers. Instead, he asserted that the gunmen had attempted to flee to Ukraine, implicating individuals on "the Ukrainian side" in aiding their escape. Ukraine promptly denied any involvement in the incident.

Authorities swiftly apprehended 11 individuals, including the four suspected gunmen, who were captured near the border with Ukraine. Investigations revealed that the assailants had connections in Ukraine and were en route to the country when they were intercepted. The suspects were detained and transferred to Moscow for further questioning and judicial proceedings. Meanwhile, blood donation drives were organized across Moscow, with an outpouring of support from citizens and governments worldwide.

The attack underscored the ongoing tensions between Russia and Ukraine, reigniting debates over security and international relations. As Putin ordered a full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky accused Putin of attempting to deflect blame for the tragedy. Despite the devastation, the Russian people remained resilient, united in mourning and determination to seek justice for the victims of this senseless act of violence.

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