Nine detained in Tajikistan in relation to Moscow concert hall attack

A Russian court meanwhile charged one more suspect in last week’s deadly attack on Crocus City Hall.

Lutfulloi Nazrimad, a suspect in the Crocus City Hall shooting, stands in a glass cage in the Basmanny District Court in Moscow [Basmanny District Court press service via AP]

Tajikistan’s state security service has detained nine people for suspected contact with the perpetrators of last week’s attack by gunmen on a suburban Moscow concert hall that killed 144 people, Russian state media reported.

“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 RIA Novosti news agency reported on Friday, 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.

Vakhdat lies east of the Tajik capital, Dushanbe.

Those detained are also suspected of having connections with ISIL (ISIS), according to RIA Novosti.

This came as a court in Moscow charged another suspect in the deadly concert hall attack – Lutfulloi Nazrimad – and ruled that should be held in custody until at least May 22, pending investigation and trial.

Russian independent news site Mediazona cited Nazrimad as saying in court that he was born in Tajikistan.

Nazrimad is the ninth suspect to face court.

Al Jazeera’s Dorsa Jabbari, reporting from Moscow, said that 24-year-old Nazrimad was charged with conspiracy to conduct acts of terrorism, and that he pleaded guilty to some of the charges, according to his lawyer.

A view shows the Crocus City Hall concert venue following Friday's deadly attack, outside Moscow, Russia, March 23, 2024. Sergei Vedyashkin/Moscow News Agency/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. MANDATORY CREDIT.
Last week’s attack on the Crocus City Hall concert venue outside Moscow left 144 people dead [File: Sergei Vedyashkin/Moscow News Agency/Handout via Reuters]

Russian officials previously said that 11 suspects had been arrested in the country, 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.

Russia’s Investigative Committee additionally said on Thursday that 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.

A faction of ISIL has claimed responsibility for the massacre. But Russian officials, including President Vladimir Putin, have persistently claimed that Ukraine and the West had a role in the attack.

Al Jazeera’s Jabbari reported that the detentions come at a time when Russia’s investigative committee has announced it has evidence – which it has not shared with the public – about “connections between funds received in cash and cryptocurrency from Ukrainian people or nationals to the perpetrators of this attack”.

Ukraine has denied 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 concert hall attack has continued 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.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies