9 detained in Tajikistan in relation to Moscow concert hall attack, Russian state media report

People lay flowers and light candles standing next to the Crocus City Hall, on the western edge of Moscow, Russia, Saturday, March 23, 2024. Russia’s top state investigative agency says the death toll in the Moscow concert hall attack has risen to over 133. The attack Friday on Crocus City Hall, a sprawling mall and concert venue on Moscow’s western edge, also left many wounded and left the building a smoldering ruin.

Nine people have been detained by Tajikistan’s state security service over suspected contact with the perpetrators of last week’s attack by gunmen on a suburban Moscow concert hall that killed 144 people, Russian state news agency RIA Novosti said Friday.

“Nine residents of the Vakhdat district were detained for contact with the persons who committed the terrorist attack at Crocus City Hall on March 22,” the agency reported, citing information from an unnamed source in Tajikistan’s special services, who said that Russian security forces were also involved in the operation to detain the suspects.

Those detained are also suspected of having connections with the Islamic State group, according to RIA Novosti.

Russia’s Investigative Committee said Thursday it had detained another suspect in relation to the raid on Crocus City Hall, on suspicion of being involved in financing the attack. It did not give further details of the suspect’s identity or alleged actions.

Russian officials previously said that 11 suspects had been arrested, including four who allegedly carried out the attack. Those four, identified as Tajik nationals, appeared in a Moscow court on Sunday on terrorism charges and showed signs of severe beatings. One appeared to be barely conscious during the hearing.

A faction of the Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for the massacre. But Russian officials, including President Vladimir Putin, have persistently claimed, without presenting evidence, that Ukraine and the West had a role in the attack.

The Investigative Committee statement said it has “confirmed data that the perpetrators of the terrorist attack received significant amounts of money and cryptocurrency from Ukraine, which were used in preparing the crime.”

Ukraine denies involvement and its officials claim that Moscow is pushing the allegation as a pretext to intensify its fighting in Ukraine.

The death toll from the raid continues to rise, with the number of deaths increasing to 144 on Friday when a severely injured victim died in a hospital, according to Russian Health Minister Mikhail Murashko.