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Russia mourns victims of deadly concert hall attack

People line up to lay flowers at a makeshift memorial to the victims of a shooting attack set up outside the Crocus City Hall concert venue in Moscow. — Reuters
People line up to lay flowers at a makeshift memorial to the victims of a shooting attack set up outside the Crocus City Hall concert venue in Moscow. — Reuters
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MOSCOW: Russia lowered flags to half-mast on Sunday for a day of mourning after scores of people were gunned down with automatic weapons at a rock concert outside Moscow in the deadliest attack inside Russia for two decades.


President Vladimir Putin declared a national day of mourning after pledging to track down and punish all those behind the attack, in which 133 people were killed, including three children, and more than 150 injured.


"I express my deep, sincere condolences to all those who lost their loved ones," Putin said in an address to the nation on Saturday, his first public comments on the attack. "The whole country and our entire people are grieving with you."


IS group claimed responsibility for Friday's attack, but Putin has not publicly mentioned the group in connection with the attackers, who he said had been trying to escape to Ukraine. He asserted that some on "the Ukrainian side" had prepared to spirit them across the border.


People laid flowers at Crocus City Hall, the 6,200-seat concert hall outside Moscow where four armed men burst in on Friday just before Soviet-era rock group Picnic was to perform its hit "Afraid of Nothing".


The men fired their automatic weapons in short bursts at terrified civilians who fell screaming in a hail of bullets.


Long lines formed in Moscow to donate blood. Blood banks said on Sunday they now had enough blood supplies for four to six months.


Across Moscow, billboards carried a picture of a single candle, the date of the attack and the words "We mourn". In other cities, people laid flowers.


Countries around the world have expressed horror at the attack and sent their condolences to the Russian people.


Putin said 11 people had been detained, including the four gunmen, who fled the concert hall and made their way to the Bryansk region, about 340 km southwest of Moscow.


"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," Putin said.


Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB) said the gunmen had contacts in Ukraine and were captured near the border.


The suspects have been brought to Moscow and may appear in court later, according to local news agencies.


In video footage published by Russian media and Telegram channels with close ties to the Kremlin, one of the suspects said he was offered money to carry out the attack. — Reuters


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