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Moscow attack: Russia questions US claim of ISIS-K hand as two suspects plead guilty

Raising suspicion about the US claim of possible hand of Islamic State-Khorasan behind the terror attack at Crocus Hall in Moscow killing nearly 140 people and injuring 182, Russia has questioned the Washington DC claim amid two of suspects pleading guilty, on Monday, to involvement in the worst atrocity in more than two decades.

Earlier on Friday, four men–including a Tajik national—stormed the concert hall armed with Kalashnikov and firing their automatic weapons point-blank in short bursts on spectators during a concert by the Soviet-era rock group Picnic.

The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the assault. The terror group on Telegram claimed that the attack was “carried out by four of its members armed with machine guns, a pistol, knives and firebombs” as part of “the raging war” with “countries fighting Islam”.

Russia’s foreign ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova, in an article for the Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper, accused the US of evoking “bogeyman” of Islamic State to cover its “wards” in Kyiv, and reminded readers that Washington had supported the “mujahideen” fighters who fought Soviet forces in the 1980s.

“Attention – a question to the White House: Are you sure it’s ISIS? Might you think again about that?” Reuters quoted Zakharova as saying in the article.

Contrary to popular claims of an ISIS-K role, Russian President Vladimir Putin too on Saturday pointed to the possible hand of Ukraine in the massacre without offering evidence, an allegation the government in Kyiv has flatly rejected.

“They tried to hide and moved towards Ukraine, where, according to preliminary data, a window was prepared for them on the Ukrainian side to cross the state border,” the Russian leader had said.

Putin had 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.

Meanwhile, two of the accused on Monday pleaded guilty to involvement in the worst atrocity in the capital in more than two decades, the Moscow courts service said on its Telegram channel. All four are detained through May 22. It gave no information on pleas by the other two. 

Separately, French President Emmanuel Macron today joined the US in saying intelligence indicated that the Islamic State was responsible for the attack on the concert hall outside Moscow.

“The information available to us … as well as to our main partners, indicates indeed that it was an entity of the Islamic State which instigated this attack,” Reuters quoted Macron as saying, referring to Islamic State’s affiliate in Afghanistan, which is known as ISIS-Khorasan or ISIS-K.

“This group also tried to commit several actions on our own soil,” he said during a visit to French Guiana.

France raised its terror alert warning to its highest level on Sunday following the shootings in Moscow.

Source: Mint