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Islamic State group claims responsibility of Moscow concert hall attack; 40 dead, 145 injured | World News

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Several assailants burst into a large concert hall in Moscow on Friday and sprayed the crowd with gunfire, killing at least 40 people, injuring more than 100 and setting fire to the venue in a brazen attack just days after President Vladimir Putin cemented his grip on power in a highly orchestrated electoral landslide.

Smoke from fire rises above the burning Crocus City Hall concert venue following a shooting incident, outside Moscow, Russia, March 22, 2024. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov(REUTERS)
Smoke from fire rises above the burning Crocus City Hall concert venue following a shooting incident, outside Moscow, Russia, March 22, 2024. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov(REUTERS)

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement posted on affiliated channels on social media, which couldn’t be independently verified. It wasn’t immediately clear what happened to the attackers after the raid, which Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin described as a “huge tragedy” and state authorities were investigating as terrorism.

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The attack, which left the concert hall in flames with a collapsing roof, was the deadliest in Russia in years and came as the country’s war in Ukraine dragged into a third year.

The Kremlin said that Putin was informed about the raid minutes after the assailants burst into the Crocus City Hall, a large music venue on Moscow’s western edge that can accommodate 6,200 people.

The attack took place as crowds gathered for a performance by the Russian rock band Picnic. As Russia’s Federal Security Service reported 40 dead and over 100 injured, some Russian news reports suggested that more could have been trapped by the blaze that erupted after the assailants threw explosives. Health authorities released a list of 145 injured — 115 of them hospitalized, including five children.

Video from outside showed the building on fire, with a huge cloud of smoke rising through the night sky. The street was lit up by the blinking blue lights of dozens of firetrucks, ambulances and other emergency vehicles, as several fire helicopters buzzed overhead to dump water on the blaze that took hours to contain.

The prosecutor’s office said several men in combat fatigues entered the concert hall and fired on concertgoers.

Repeated volleys of gunfire could be heard in videos posted by Russian media and on Telegram channels. One showed two men with rifles moving through the venue. Another showed a man inside the auditorium saying the assailants had set it on fire, as gunshots rang out incessantly in the background.

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

Guards at the concert hall didn’t have guns, and some could have been killed at the start of the attack, Russian media reported. Some Russian news outlets suggested the assailants fled before special forces and riot police arrived. Reports said police patrols were looking for several vehicles the attackers could have used to escape.

In a statement posted by its Aamaq news agency, the Islamic State group said it attacked a large gathering in Krasnogorsk on Moscow’s outskirts, killing and wounding hundreds. It was not immediately possible to verify the authenticity of the claim.

Earlier this month, Russia’s top security agency said it thwarted an attack on a synagogue in Moscow by a cell of the Islamic State group. Russian authorities also said that six alleged IS members were killed in Ingushetia in Russia’s volatile Caucasus region.

It was not clear why the group, which operates mainly in Syria and Iraq but also in Afghanistan and Africa, would stage an attack in Russia at this time. Over the years, the extremist group recruited fighters from the former Soviet Union who fought for the group in Syria and Iraq and claimed several attacks in the Caucasus and other Russian regions in the past.

As the blaze raged, statements of outrage, shock and support for those affected streamed in from around the world.

Some commentators on Russian social media questioned how authorities, who relentlessly surveil and pressure Kremlin critics, failed to identify the threat and prevent the attack.

Russian officials said security has been tightened at Moscow’s airports, railway stations and the capital’s sprawling subway system. Moscow’s mayor canceled all mass gatherings and theaters and museums shut for the weekend. Other Russian regions also tightened security.

The Kremlin didn’t immediately blame anyone for the attack, but some Russian lawmakers were quick to accuse Ukraine of being behind it and called for ramping up strikes. Hours before the attack, the Russian military l aunched a sweeping barrage on Ukraine’s power system, crippling the country’s biggest hydroelectric plant and other energy facilities and leaving more than a million people without electricity.

Dmitry Medvedev, deputy head of Russia’s Security Council, said that if Kyiv’s involvement in the attack on the concert hall is proven, all those involved “must be tracked down and killed without mercy, including officials of the state that committed such outrage.”

Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, denied Ukraine’s involvement in the concert hall attack.

“Ukraine has never resorted to the use of terrorist methods,” he posted on X. “Everything in this war will be decided only on the battlefield.”

John Kirby, spokesman for the White House National Security Council, said Friday that he couldn’t yet speak about all the details but that “the images are just horrible. And just hard to watch.”

“Our thoughts are going to be with the victims of this terrible, terrible shooting attack,” Kirby said. “There are some moms and dads and brothers and sisters and sons and daughters who haven’t gotten the news yet. This is going to be a tough day.”

The attack followed a statement issued earlier this month by the U.S. Embassy in Moscow that urged Americans to avoid crowded places in the Russian capital in view of “imminent” plans by extremists to target large gatherings in Moscow, including concerts. The warning, which was issued hours after Russia’s top security agency said it busted a cell of the Islamic State group preparing an attack on a synagogue, was repeated by several other Western embassies.

Asked about the embassy’s March 7 notice, Kirby referred the question to the State Department, adding: “I don’t think that was related to this specific attack.”

Responding to a question about whether Washington had any prior information about the assault, Kirby responded: “I’m not aware of any advance knowledge that we had of this terrible attack.”

Putin, who extended his grip on Russia for another six years in the March 15-17 presidential vote after a sweeping crackdown on dissent, earlier this week denounced the Western warnings as an attempt to intimidate Russians. “All that resembles open blackmail and an attempt to frighten and destabilize our society,” he said.

Russia was shaken by a series of deadly terror attacks in the early 2000s during the fighting with separatists in the Russian province of Chechnya.

In October 2002, Chechen militants took about 800 people hostage at a Moscow theater. Two days later, Russian special forces stormed the building and 129 hostages and 41 Chechen fighters died, most of them from effects of narcotic gas Russian forces use to subdue the attackers.

And in September 2004, about 30 Chechen militants seized a school in Beslan in southern Russia taking hundreds of hostages. The siege ended in a bloodbath two days later and more than 330 people, about half of them children, were killed.



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Slack co-founder Stewart Butterfield’s missing daughter ‘at risk’ due to ‘previous threat of suicide,’ cops say

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The runaway daughter of Slack co-founder Stewart Butterfield is believed to be “at risk” because of a “previous threat of suicide,” police have said. 16-year-old Mint Butterfield was reported missing earlier this week. The teen, who is non-binary and uses they/them pronouns, reportedly fled their mother’s home in Bolinas, California.

Slack co-founder Stewart Butterfield’s missing daughter, Mint Butterfield, ‘at risk’ due to ‘previous threat of suicide,’ cops say (Marin County Sheriff's Office)
Slack co-founder Stewart Butterfield’s missing daughter, Mint Butterfield, ‘at risk’ due to ‘previous threat of suicide,’ cops say (Marin County Sheriff’s Office)

Flickr founder Caterina Fake, Mint’s mom, alerted authorities after finding a letter they had left behind. It is believed Mint could have been on her way to San Francisco’s very dangerous Tenderloin District neighbourhood.

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“At this time, we have no information to believe that Mint was taken against their will. The Sheriff’s Office is considering Mint a voluntary-missing juvenile, who is “At- Risk” due to a reported previous threat of suicide,” a statement by the Marin’s County Sheriff’s office read.

How did Mint Butterfield leave the area?

Mint fled the house with a suitcase “during the night or early morning,” according to authorities. “Fake and Mint also share a home in San Francisco, and it is believed, based on statements from Fake, that Mint may have left for the Tenderloin District of San Francisco,” the statement says.

The sheriff’s office also noted that Mint did not have access to a phone or any kind of vehicle, so it is unclear how they left the area. The San Francisco Standard reported that Mint has a history of substance abuse. They had been living with their mother before they went missing. Mint was enrolled at a private school in the Napa area.

Mint was known for having frequently visited the Tenderloin area. The area is notorious for open-air drug markets, homelessness, and violent crimes.

“Marin County Deputies entered Mint into the Missing and Unidentified Persons System (MUPS) and sent out All Points Bulletin flyers to surrounding law enforcement agencies with a description and photograph of Mint,” the sheriff’s office said.

It added, “In collaboration with San Francisco Police Department, detectives from both agencies have attempted to find Mint, but have been unable to locate them.”

Mint’s father, Stewart, co-founded Slack back in 2013. He left the company after it was acquired by Salesforce for $28 billion in 2021.

The sheriff’s office has urged people with information on the incident or Mint’s whereabouts to contact the Marin County Sheriff’s Office at (415) 479-2311 or email tips@marinsheriff.org.

Discussing suicides can be triggering for some. However, suicides are preventable. If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).



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KKR vs PBKS, IPL 2024: Catch all the action in images

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Published on Apr 27, 2024 12:11 AM IST

  • PBKS defeated KKR by eight wickets in their IPL 2024 fixture, on Friday at Eden Gardens in Kolkata.

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Punjab Kings defeated Kolkata Knight Riders by eight wickets in their IPL 2024 fixture, at Eden Gardens.(PTI)
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Published on Apr 27, 2024 12:11 AM IST

Punjab Kings defeated Kolkata Knight Riders by eight wickets in their IPL 2024 fixture, at Eden Gardens.(PTI)

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Chasing 262, PBKS reached 262/2 in 18.4 overs, courtesy of an unbeaten ton by Jonny Bairstow. Bairstow smacked an unbeaten knock of 108* runs off 48 balls and Shashank slammed 68* off 28 deliveries.(AP)
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Published on Apr 27, 2024 12:11 AM IST

Chasing 262, PBKS reached 262/2 in 18.4 overs, courtesy of an unbeaten ton by Jonny Bairstow. Bairstow smacked an unbeaten knock of 108* runs off 48 balls and Shashank slammed 68* off 28 deliveries.(AP)

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For KKR's bowling department, Sunil Narine took a wicket.(PTI)
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Published on Apr 27, 2024 12:11 AM IST

For KKR’s bowling department, Sunil Narine took a wicket.(PTI)

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Initially, Phil Salt (71) and Narine (71) took KKR to 261/6 in 20 overs.(KKR-X)
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Published on Apr 27, 2024 12:11 AM IST

Initially, Phil Salt (71) and Narine (71) took KKR to 261/6 in 20 overs.(KKR-X)

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For PBKS' bowling department, Arshdeep Singh took two wickets.(ANI)
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Published on Apr 27, 2024 12:11 AM IST

For PBKS’ bowling department, Arshdeep Singh took two wickets.(ANI)



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UWW threatens to suspend WFI and India’s wrestlers too

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Ten days after sports ministry told the Delhi High Court that it will neither recognise nor provide any support to Wrestling Federation of India (WFI), United World Wrestling (UWW) has warned that government interference could lead to WFI being suspended again. This time, the suspension could extend to the wrestlers as well.

Nenad Lalovic during the ASOIF General Assembly earlier this month(Getty)
Nenad Lalovic during the ASOIF General Assembly earlier this month(Getty)

In a strongly-worded letter signed by UWW president Nenad Lalovic, wrestling’s global governing body has reiterated its determination to uphold WFI’s independence and autonomy.

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“We have been informed that the Wrestling Federation of India is once again threatened by your Ministry of Sports with the imposition of an ad hoc committee to oversee its affairs,” UWW wrote.

“In case any decision or order should be made against your federation, and a third party be designated to run the daily affairs of our sport in India in violation of the UWW Statutes, UWW would have no other option than to re-impose a temporary suspension of your federation until further notice, and which, this time, could maybe include your athletes.

This suspension would apply to the final Olympic Games Qualifying Tournament in May, and will certainly attract the attention of the IOC on this matter, who may also consider further action,” UWW noted.

On Wednesday, a day before UWW’s letter, WFI appointed the Athletes Commission in accordance with the world body’s demand. Former Commonwealth Games gold-medallist Narsingh Yadav was elected chairman of the commission.

Ban lifted in February

UWW had placed the WFI under provisional suspension in August 2023 after WFI’s continued delay in holding elections. The ban was lifted this February. A month later, Indian Olympic Association (IOA) reinstated WFI and dissolved the three-member ad hoc committee constituted to run the sport.

WFI, however, continues to remain under suspension since last December by the ministry. Earlier this month, the ministry told the Delhi High Court that it might review the suspension only after there is visible improvement in WFI’s governance.

The ministry, in the affidavit filed through standing counsel Anil Soni, added that it would treat any national championships or competitions organised by WFI as unsanctioned and unrecognised. The Sanjay Singh-led WFI has held national championships as well as selection trials for the Olympic qualifiers.

“It is further submitted that the Ministry is continuously monitoring the governance of the WFI and at present does not deem it appropriate at this stage to review its decision dated 24/12/2023. Any review will be undertaken only after marked and visible improvement its governance, demonstration of compliance of UWW’s order and IOA’s order dated 18.03.2024 and steps taken Expiry Date 15/03/2025 WFI with regard to its democratic functioning, adherence to the Government guidelines aiming towards good governance practices including grievance redressal mechanism and safety of wrestlers,” the ministry had told the court.

In an earlier hearing this month, the court had considered setting up an ad hoc committee for running WFI.

“UWW’s letter must be taken very seriously. WFI is an autonomous body and there is no need for ministry’s suspension or interference,” Sanjay Singh said.

“The fact that UWW’s ban may extend to the wrestlers is a first in our history. The government must allow us to function independently,” a senior WFI official said.

While WFI continues to grapple with the government, Indian wrestlers’ performance has been a major cause of concern. At the Asian Olympic Qualifiers in Bishkek last week, Indian bagged quotas through Vinesh Phogat (50kg), Anshu Malik, (57kg) and Reetika (76kg), adding to Antim Panghal’s 53kg berth. The male wrestlers, both freestyle and Greco Roman, drew a blank.



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