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Thousands gather in Russia to mourn victims of concert hall attack

By Sophie Tanno, Eve Brennan, Anna Chernova and Darya Tarasova, CNN

(CNN) — Russia on Sunday held a day of mourning after at least 137 people were killed in an attack on a concert venue in Moscow, the country’s worst terrorist attack in two decades.

The four gunmen suspected of carrying out the attack were arrested near the border on Saturday, Russian authorities said.

The four suspects are from Tajikistan and have been in Russia on either temporary or expired visas, according to state media. State media named the suspects as Dalerdzhon Mirzoyev, Saidakrami Rachabalizoda, Shamsidin Fariduni and Muhammadsober Faizov.

ISIS claimed responsibility for the assault in a short statement published by the ISIS-affiliated Amaq news agency on Telegram on Friday. The attack was the deadliest to hit Russia since the Beslan school siege of 2004.

Thousands of people from cities across Russia lined up in the rain on Sunday to place flowers at a memorial outside the Crocus City Hall near Moscow to honor those killed. Hundreds of flowers and a group of white balloons were left at the scene.

Members of the clergy also paid their respects and initiated prayers which crowds joined in with flags were lowered to half-staff.

One of those there – 37-year-old Alexander Matveev – told CNN people in Russia felt insecure and worried another attack may take place.

“I listened to Putin. He said they were trying to escape to Ukraine. This makes sense,” he said. “Let’s see what investigators say.”

“But Russia is strong, we won’t give up,” Matveev added.

Russian President Vladimir Putin turned out to pay his respects to the deceased, lighting a candle in a church at his Novo-Ogaryovo residence outside Moscow.

The Russian leader first announced the day of mourning in an address to the nation on Saturday, to grieve the victims of what he described as a “bloody and barbaric act.”

“The whole country, our whole people, mourns with you,” he said.

Also during the address, Putin said attackers had sought to escape across the border towards Ukraine.

He said that some on the Ukrainian side had helped prepare a “window” for their escape. Putin has also blamed the attack on “international terrorism.”

Ukraine has strenuously denied any involvement in the attack. The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry describing the accusations as a “planned provocation by the Kremlin to further fuel anti-Ukrainian hysteria in Russian society, create conditions for increased mobilization of Russian citizens to participate in the criminal aggression against our country and discredit Ukraine in the eyes of the international community.”

Amaq also released a graphic video on Saturday that purports to show Friday’s attack at a concert hall in suburban Moscow recorded by one of the attackers, suggesting the perpetrators had a direct link to ISIS in order to be able to send the video.

The Russian Investigative Committee updated the death toll to 137 on Sunday, including three children.

The committee added that 62 bodies have been identified so far.

“For the remaining victims, genetic examinations are being carried out to establish their identities,” the statement said. “The investigation of the crime scene continues.”

Russian state news agency RIA Novosti said molecular genetic examination may be required in some cases which will take at least two weeks.

CNN’s Masha Angelova and Josh Pennington contributed to this report.

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