Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, meets Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev in Moscow, Russia, on January 18 2019. Picture: SPUTNIK/EKATERINA SHTUKINA/POOL VIA REUTERS
Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, meets Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev in Moscow, Russia, on January 18 2019. Picture: SPUTNIK/EKATERINA SHTUKINA/POOL VIA REUTERS

Moscow/Cairo/Beirut — Russian investigators on Friday dismissed an Islamic State (IS) claim of responsibility for a deadly apartment building explosion in December that killed 39 people, saying that militant groups had a history of falsely taking credit for such incidents.

IS made the claim in its Al Naba newspaper on Thursday evening, saying it was behind the explosion in the city of Magnitogorsk on December 31 that triggered the partial collapse of a 10-storey 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’ New Year festivities into funerals,” the IS newspaper said.

Russia’s investigative committee said the claim should not be trusted and that investigators are still looking into what happened and studying all possible versions. Their primary theory is that a gas leak was to blame, a statement said, saying that no traces of explosive or explosive devices have been found at the scene and that it was too early to draw definitive conclusions.

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

President Vladimir Putin flew to the scene of the tragedy some 1,700km east of Moscow on December 31 and has since ordered all of the affected building’s residents to be rehoused.

Reuters