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Courage, a Rising Death Toll, and Blood Money: Attack on the Moscow Concert Hall

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“One of those present in the hall showed unparalleled courage,” officials said.

Rescuers pulled more bodies from the rubble of a Moscow concert hall, while one man has been hailed for “neutralizing” an attacker, and four suspected gunmen have been detained in connection with Russia’s worst terrorist violence in nearly 20 years, officials said.

“As the rubble was being removed in the concert hall of the Crocus City Hall, the number of people killed in the terrorist attack has risen to 133,” Russia’s national Investigative Committee said in a statement. “The search operation is underway.”

Camouflage-clad gunmen opened fire at the crowded concert hall March 22 on the outskirts of Moscow. The gunfire was accompanied by multiple explosions that left the upper floors engulfed in flames that eventually caused the roof to collapse.

The Islamic State (IS) claimed responsibility for the attack. Hours after the incident began, Telegram channels affiliated with IS ran a statement saying the group’s fighters “attacked a large gathering…on the outskirts of the Russian capital, Moscow.”

The statement said the terrorists had “retreated to their bases safely.” The statement did not specify what the bases were, and could not independently be verified.

The Investigative Committee has credited one man with saving others inside the venue.

“During the terrorist attack, one of those present in the hall showed unparalleled courage,” according to the committee chairman, Alexander Ivanovich Bastrykin. “A man, trying to protect his wife from terrorists who were shooting at people, attacked one of them and neutralized him. With his active and decisive actions, he saved the lives of the people around him at that moment.”

A man who was arrested on suspicion of involvement in the attack told interrogators he was promised a reward of 500,000 rubles ($5,400), according to Russian media. A down payment of about half of the money was transferred to a bank card that he lost while trying to evade police, the man said.

The Russian Investigative Committee released a photograph of what it said was a weapon that was used in the attack.

This weapon was used in the attack, Russian officials said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, meanwhile, decried the violence as a “bloody, barbaric terrorist attack” as he declared a day of national mourning.

“The main thing now is to prevent those who are behind this bloodbath from committing a new crime,” he said in a recorded video address released by the Kremlin midafternoon on March 23.

The deaths were caused by either gunshot wounds or asphyxiation apparently from burning materials, said the Investigative Committee. Attackers used an unspecified flammable substance to set fire to the Crocus City Hall.

The Islamic State could not be reached for comment.

The motive for the attack remains unclear.

From combined reporting from Soldier of Fortune and Current Time.

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