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Putin dismissed US warnings about a potential terror incident as 'blackmail' just 3 days before concert hall attack

A Russian national guard servicemen secures an area as a massive blaze seen over the Crocus City Hall on the western edge of Moscow on March 22, 2024.
A National Guard of Russia troop secures an area as a massive blaze rages over the Crocus City Hall on the western edge of Moscow on March 22.AP Photo/Dmitry Serebryakov
  • Shooters attacked a Moscow concert hall on Friday, killing at least 60 and injuring more than 100.

  • Earlier this month, the US embassy issued a security alert warning of a potential terror attack.

  • Just days ago, Vladimir Putin dismissed the idea as "blackmail" from the West.

Russian President Vladimir Putin dismissed US warnings about a potential terror incident in Moscow just days before shooters attacked a concert hall in the city on Friday.

At least 60 people are dead and more than 100 are injured after multiple armed individuals stormed the Crocus City Hall in Moscow, an investigative committee reported. The state-run news agency TASS reported 40 deaths earlier in the day, citing Russia's Federal Security Service, or FSB, which called the incident a "terrorist attack."

Graphic videos posted to social media purport to show the attack unfolding. In some of the footage, gunshots and concertgoers' screams can be heard.

According to Russian state media, the unidentified attackers were armed with assault rifles and opened fire in the lobby of the building before moving into the main concern hall, where a band was scheduled to perform. It added that an explosion inside the venue sparked the fire, which engulfed at least a third of the building and spread to the roof.

Russian Rosguardia national guard servicemen secure an area near the Crocus City Hall on the western edge of Moscow on March 22, 2024.
Rosguardia troops secure an area near the Crocus City Hall on the western edge of Moscow on March 22.AP Photo/Vitaly Smolnikov

Earlier this month, the US embassy in Russia issued a security alert warning that "extremists have imminent plans" for a terror attack in Moscow and urged people to avoid crowds, monitor local media for updates, and be aware of their surroundings.

"The Embassy is monitoring reports that extremists have imminent plans to target large gatherings in Moscow, to include concerts, and U.S. citizens should be advised to avoid large gatherings over the next 48 hours," the March 7 security alert said.

Putin addressed the warnings a couple of weeks later, criticizing the warning as "provocative."

TASS reported that Putin said on March 19 the aim of "the recent provocative statements of a number of official Western structures about the possibility of terrorist attacks in Russia" was harming Russian society.

A man speaks to journalists as a massive blaze seen over the Crocus City Hall on the western edge of Moscow on March 22, 2024.
A man speaks to journalists as a massive blaze rages over the Crocus City Hall on the western edge of Moscow on March 22.AP Photo/Dmitry Serebryakov

"All this resembles outright blackmail and the intention to intimidate and destabilize our society," Putin said, state media covering his remarks reported.

The US embassy issued another alert on Friday saying it was "aware" of the attack and urged Americans to avoid the area.

"We strongly condemn the horrendous attack carried out at a concert hall in Moscow," Russia's foreign ministry said in an official statement. "We express our deepest sympathies with the families of the victims."

Shortly after Friday's attack, ISIS claimed responsibility, according to a post on Telegram from a news agency affiliated with the terrorist group. US officials later confirmed that a branch of ISIS, Islamic State-Khorasan, or ISIS-K, was responsible and had been planning an attack.

The group has been known to operate in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iran and was suspected to be active inside Russia, two US officials told The Washington Post, which reported that the embassy alert was based, at least in part, on intelligence about ISIS-K activity in Russia.

A White House official shared more information Friday evening in a statement reported by multiple outlets.

"Earlier this month, the US government had information about a planned terrorist attack in Moscow — potentially targeting large gatherings, to include concerts — which prompted the State Department to issue a public advisory to Americans in Russia," Adrienne Watson, a spokesperson for the White House National Security Council, said.

"The U.S. government also shared this information with Russian authorities in accordance with its longstanding 'duty to warn' policy," Watson said, referring to the US policy in the intelligence community to notify potential victims, regardless of whether they are US citizens, of certain credible impending threats.

Read the original article on Business Insider