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Concert attack in Russia that killed over 60 followed U.S. warnings

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More than 60 people are dead and 115 hospitalized after assailants opened fire and caused an explosion at a popular concert venue on the outskirts of Moscow, Russian authorities said, following U.S. government warnings this month about a “planned terrorist attack” in the Russian capital.

The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the Friday night attack, which was the deadliest in Russia in years, that left Crocus City Hall in Krasnogorsk in about 140,000 square feet of flames, according to Russia’s emergency services. A U.S. official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive information, told The Washington Post that the United States had “no reason to doubt” the claim from the Islamic State.

The attack comes just days after Russian President Vladimir Putin’s victory in a highly orchestrated election, which solidified his power as his war in Ukraine drags into its third year.

Putin does not appear to have spoken publicly since the attack, but Russian Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova said the president “wished everyone recovery” and “thanked the doctors,” Tass reported.

The U.S. government issued a public advisory to Americans in Russia on March 7 that described the risk of a “planned terrorist attack in Moscow — potentially targeting large gatherings, to include concerts,” National Security Council spokeswoman Adrienne Watson said in a statement on Friday.

“The U.S. Government also shared this information with Russian authorities in accordance with its long-standing ‘duty to warn’ policy,” Watson said.

The warning was based in part on intelligence reporting about possible activity inside Russia from Islamic State-Khorasan, a branch of the Islamic State, two U.S. officials who also spoke on the condition of anonymity told The Post. Other Western embassies echoed the warning.

Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, promptly denied any responsibility for Friday’s attack, writing on social media that Ukraine “certainly has nothing to do with the shooting/explosions” and that “everything in this war will be decided only on the battlefield.”

Videos from Friday, verified by The Post, show four men in camouflage entering a large hall before the start of a sold-out concert and opening fire, as well as shooters firing rounds inside a concert hall, thick with smoke. Other footage shows numerous bodies slumped on the floor.

Speaking at a news conference on Friday, White House national security spokesman John Kirby called the images “just horrible and just hard to watch.”

U.N. Secretary General António Guterres condemned “in the strongest possible terms today’s terrorist attack” and expressed “deep condolences,” his spokesperson said in a statement Friday.

Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin on Telegram called Friday’s attack a “terrible tragedy” and wrote that all sports, cultural and public events in Moscow would be canceled over the weekend.

Opposition figure Yulia Navalnaya, whose husband, staunch Putin critic Alexei Navalny, died in a Russian prison colony last month, called the attack a “nightmare.”

“Everyone involved in this crime must be found and held accountable,” she said.

Natalia Abbakumova contributed to this report.

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