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'US responsible for Moscow Concert Hall attack', alleges Russia

NEW DELHI: The head of Russia's national security council asserted on Wednesday that the United States bears responsibility for the recent attack on a Moscow concert hall, which claimed the lives of 145 individuals, according to an AP report.

Despite a claim by an affiliate of the Islamic State group, Russian officials, led by President Vladimir Putin, have persistently alleged, without substantiation, that the attack was orchestrated by Ukraine, embroiled in a long-standing conflict with Russia.
The Islamic State affiliate took credit for the attack, while Ukraine has consistently denied any involvement.

Nikolai Patrushev, the head of Russia's security council, expressed skepticism at a meeting in Astana, Kazakhstan, suggesting that the true mastermind behind the heinous act may be linked to Ukrainian special services. "They are trying to impose on us that the terrorist act was committed not by the Kyiv regime, but by supporters of radical Islamic ideology, perhaps members of the Afghan branch of IS," he said.

Patrushev further added, "however, it is much more important to quickly establish who is the customer and sponsor of this monstrous crime. Its traces lead to the Ukrainian special services. But everyone knows that the Kyiv regime is not independent and is completely controlled by the United States."

Following the incident, four suspected gunmen were apprehended in the Bryansk region, near the Ukrainian border, with claims that they were planning to flee into Ukraine. Additionally, six other suspected accomplices have been taken into custody.

The death toll from the attack, initially reported at 144 by Russia's emergencies ministry, rose as a six as a child succumbed to injuries sustained during the assault, as reported by children's rights ombudsman Maria Lvova-Belova.

The attack occurred just two weeks after the US Embassy in Russia issued a caution regarding potential terrorist threats on public establishments. Although the US State Department claims to have shared intelligence on the planned attacks with Russian authorities, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov refrained from commenting on reports that the Crocus City Hall was a specific target, citing security protocols.

Meanwhile, the Russian prosecutor-general's office has initiated inquiries with the US, Germany, France, and Cyprus regarding potential Western involvement in terrorist activities on Russian soil, as reported by state news agency Tass.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova dismissed the allegations, urging journalists to seek clarification from the American side regarding the information shared. The ongoing investigation into the attack underscores the complex geopolitical dynamics at play, with implications reaching far beyond Russian borders.