Russia Dismisses IS Responsibility Claim for Deadly Blast

MOSCOW (Reuters) -
Emergency Situations employees working at the scene of a collapsed section of an apartment building in Magnitigorsk, Russia, Dec. 31, 2018. (Russian Ministry for Emergency Situations photo via AP)

Russian investigators on Friday dismissed an Islamic State claim of responsibility for a deadly apartment building explosion in December that killed 39 people, saying that terror groups had a history of falsely taking credit for such incidents.

Islamic State (IS) made the claim in its Al Naba newspaper on Thursday evening, saying it was behind the explosion in the city of Magnitogorsk on Dec. 31 that triggered the partial collapse of a 10-story apartment building killing 39 and injuring dozens.

IS did not provide any proof to back its claim of responsibility, saying only that a “security unit” had planted explosives inside the building before safely withdrawing.

“The operation … transformed the crusaders’ […] festivities into funerals,” the IS newspaper said.

Russia’s Investigative Committee said the claim should not be trusted and that investigators were still looking into what happened and studying all possible versions.

Their primary theory was that a gas leak was to blame, a statement said, saying that no traces of explosive or explosive devices had been found at the scene and that it was too early to draw definitive conclusions.

“I suggest journalists do not trust statements from terrorist organizations, who as you know falsely take credit for all high-profile incidents in different countries,” Svetlana Petrenko, a spokeswoman for the Russian Investigative Committee, said in the statement.

President Vladimir Putin flew to the scene of the tragedy some 1,000 miles east of Moscow on Dec. 31 and has since ordered all of the affected building’s residents to be rehoused.