Deaths and injuries are reported after an attack on a concert hall outside Moscow

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Vehicles of Russian emergency services are parked near the burning Crocus City Hall concert venue, following a reported shooting incident, outside Moscow, Russia, March 22. (Maxim Shemetov/Reuters)

Russian news agencies report at least three gunmen have killed at least 40 people and injured over 100 at a concert venue on the outskirts of Moscow Friday. A fire has broken out on the premises, endangering more lives, with flames visible from miles away. The whereabouts of the gunmen remains unknown.

Concertgoers had gathered at Moscow’s Crocus City Hall venue to see the veteran Russian rock band Picnic when several armed gunmen in military fatigues entered the premises.

Witness videos on social media show at least three attackers firing at bystanders as they attempted to hide. Other images show people lying on the ground in the main concert hall before a fire breaks out and spreads through the premises. trapping some inside; a number of people have been spotted on the roof of the venue.

Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin said “a huge tragedy has occurred” as the number of dead is expected to rise, and expressed his condolences.

The White House issued a statement calling the attack “terrible” and saying there was “no indication at this time” of a Ukrainian role in the attack.

Some Russian officials are suggesting there must be some Ukrainian role, a claim the Ukrainians deny. Mykhailo Podolyak, an advisor to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy tweeted “Ukraine certainly had nothing to do with the shooting in the Crocus City Hall. It makes no sense whatsoever.”

U.S. National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said the images of the shooting were “horrible and hard to watch.” The U.S. embassy in Moscow has warned U.S. citizens to avoid the area.

Moscow was the scene of a hostage crisis at the Dubrovka theater in 2002, in which Chechen gunmen demanding the withdrawal of Russian troops from Chechnya took some 800 theatergoers hostage. A raid by Russian security forces to end the crisis killed or caused the death of 172 people.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova called on the international community to condemn the incident, calling it “a monstrous crime.”

This is a breaking news story and will be updated.

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