Russia has arrested 11 people including four suspected gunmen in connection with a shooting rampage that killed at least 115 people in a concert hall near Moscow, the Kremlin said on Saturday. Militant Islamist group Islamic State claimed responsibility for Friday's attack, the deadliest in Russia for 20 years. But there were indications that Russia was pursuing a Ukrainian link, despite a statement from Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak that Kyiv had nothing to do with it. The FSB security service said "all four terrorists" had been arrested while heading to the Ukrainian border, and that they had contacts in Ukraine. It said they were being transferred to Moscow. "Now we know in which country these bloody bastards planned to hide from pursuit - Ukraine," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Telegram. A senior Russian lawmaker, Andrei Kartapolov, said that if Ukraine was involved, then Russia must deliver a "worthy, clear and concrete" reply on the battlefield. Russia's Investigative Committee said the death toll had leapt to at least 115 from the attack, in which camouflage-clad gunmen opened fire with automatic weapons at concertgoers in the Crocus City Hall near the capital. It said some died from gunshot wounds and others in a huge fire that broke out in the complex. Reports said the gunmen had lit the blaze using petrol from canisters they carried in rucksacks - Reuters

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Not surprisingly, a mouthpiece for Russian President Putin, Sergei Markov, blamed Ukraine for the attack on Moscow concert venue. He told the BBC that the suspects were picked up near the Ukraine border. (However the border region mentioned by Russian officials is an active war zone; Ukraine officials said anyone would’ve been idiots or suicidal to travel there). In a rambling, nonsensical interview, Markov said Islamic terrorists couldn’t have been involved as it’s Ramadan

Ukrainian Drones Destroy Radio Communication Center 680 km Inside Russia
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Ukrainian Drones Destroy Radio Communication Center 680 km Inside Russia

Kyiv Post sources confirmed the attack on the 590th separate radio technical unit of the military unit 84680, located in Kovylkino, Mordovia, Russia.

Andrei Vorobyov, the governor of the Moscow region, says the number of victims in the attack on Crocus Concert Hall could still "rise significantly". As a reminder, at least 115 people are known to have been killed in the attack. More than 140 others were wounded and 16 of those people are still in an "extremely serious condition", including one child, Russian authorities say. Another 44 people are in serious condition, with a total of 107 victims being treated at hospital, the ministry says - BBC

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The US warned Moscow that ISIS militants were determined to target Russia in the days before assailants stormed the Crocus City Hall in an attack that killed scores of people, but President Vladimir Putin rejected the advice as “provocative.” Experts said the scale of the carnage – some of which was captured in video footage obtained by CNN showing crowds of people cowering behind cushioned seats as gunshots echoed in the vast hall – would be deeply embarrassing for the Russian leader, who had championed a message of national security just a week earlier when winning the country’s stage-managed election. Not only had Russian intelligence services failed to prevent the attack, they said, but Putin had failed to heed warnings from the United States that extremists were plotting to target Moscow. US National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson said the US government had “shared this information with Russian authorities in accordance with its longstanding ‘duty to warn’ policy.” But in a speech Tuesday, Putin had blasted the American warnings as “provocative,” saying “these actions resemble outright blackmail and the intention to intimidate and destabilize our society.” - CNN

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The Princess of Wales has disclosed that she has been diagnosed with cancer and is in the early stages of receiving chemotherapy treatment. In a personal message recorded in the gardens of Windsor castle by the BBC, Catherine said her condition had been discovered after she had major abdominal surgery in January. After weeks of speculation about her health, Catherine said she and her husband, Prince William, had needed time to explain the situation to their three children, George, 10, Charlotte, eight, and Louis, five. It is understood that the announcement had been timed to coincide with the children breaking up from school for the Easter holidays. “This of course came as a huge shock, and William and I have been doing everything we can to process and manage this privately for the sake of our young family,” Catherine said. “As you can imagine, this has taken time. It has taken me time to recover from major surgery in order to start my treatment. But, most importantly, it has taken us time to explain everything to George, Charlotte and Louis in a way that is appropriate for them, and to reassure them that I am going to be OK.” The palace said Catherine had started her chemotherapy treatment in late February. Sitting on a bench, Catherine spoke for two minutes and 16 seconds. The message was filmed on Wednesday by BBC Studios. Catherine, wearing a white jumper with black stripes, talked without apparent nerves but had looked down briefly when talking of her family’s shock at the news. The palace said Catherine had wished to provide a medical update in order to put an end to further speculation - The Guardian

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Friday evening, the numbers of dead and injured from the largest Russian attack on Ukrainian infrastructure continued to rise. As did the number of Ukrainians without power - estimated at around 1-million Friday morning and later in the day in Odesa at around 300,000. A major target was the Dnipro Hydroelectric Plant, which took two direct hits and resulted in severe power disruptions. Ukraine’s second largest city, Kharkiv, was especially hard hit and was said to be completely without power as of Friday afternoon. Also late Friday, Kharkiv came under missile attack again with two explosions reported

Antwerp police conducted six raids on Wednesday and made four arrests as part of an investigation into some diamond imports suspected of being Russian-origin, Antwerp's public prosecutor office said in a statement on Friday. The investigation is the first related to the EU and Group of Seven (G7) import ban on diamonds from Russia that began on Jan. 1 to punish Moscow for its invasion of Ukraine. A wider ban on Russian-origin stones imported via third countries began on March 1. Russia's state-owned company Alrosa is one of the world's largest diamond miners. The investigation was launched after customs officials seized diamonds in late February, the statement said. A spokesperson for the prosecutor said three shipments had been confiscated - Straits Times

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The UN Security Council on Friday turned down a resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and an Israel-Hamas hostage deal after Russia and China vetoed the measure proposed by the United States. The resolution, on which Algeria also voted no and Guyana abstained, called for an immediate and sustained ceasefire lasting roughly six weeks that would protect civilians and allow for the delivery of humanitarian assistance. Eleven of the 15 council members voted for the resolution, but the Russia and China vetoes stopped its passage. The council will meet at 10 a.m. EDT (1400 GMT) on Saturday to vote on an alternative resolution drafted by elected members of the Security Council, diplomats said. That resolution, a draft copy of which was seen by Reuters, demands an immediate ceasefire for the current Muslim holy month of Ramadan, the release of all hostages and an expanded flow of humanitarian assistance to Gaza. - Reuters

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Vietnam’s president resigned in the latest episode of the ruling Communist Party’s “blazing furnace” anti-corruption campaign, and Vice President Vo Thi Anh Xuan was named acting president. The appointment is Xuan’s second stint as acting president after she stepped in when Vo Van Thuong’s predecessor resigned in early 2023. The turmoil among top leaders is raising questions about Vietnam’s political stability as its fast-growing economy plays an increasingly important role in world supply chains. Vietnam depends heavily on exports and foreign investment, but its leaders have been tightening the party’s grip on power and cracking down on dissent as well as widespread corruption. Analysts say the turnover in leadership pinned to the anti-graft campaign also stems from rivalries within the ruling party - AP

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