Russia said on Saturday it had arrested all four gunmen suspected of carrying out a shooting massacre in a concert hall near Moscow, and President Vladimir Putin pledged to track down and punish those behind the attack.

Militant Islamist group Islamic State claimed responsibility for Friday’s rampage but there were indications that Russia was pursuing a Ukrainian link, despite emphatic denials from Ukrainian officials that Kyiv had anything to do with it.

Russia’s state Investigative Committee said 133 people had been killed. State TV editor Margarita Simonyan, without citing a source, had earlier given a toll of 143.

In a televised address, Putin said 11 people had been detained, including the four gunmen. “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,” he said.

The FSB security service said the gunmen had contacts in Ukraine and were captured near the border. It said they were being transferred to Moscow.

Neither Putin nor the FSB publicly presented any proof of a link with Ukraine, with which Russia has been waging war for the past 25 months.
Ukrainian military intelligence spokesman Andriy Yusov told Reuters: “Ukraine was of course not involved in this terror attack. Ukraine is defending its sovereignty from Russian invaders, liberating its own territory and is fighting with the occupiers’ army and military targets, not civilians.”

He said the FSB version that the suspects were arrested en route to Ukraine was “of course another lie from the Russian special services”.

Source: Reuters

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