MOSCOW — A taxi drove into a crowd of people near Moscow’s Red Square on Saturday, injuring seven people including Mexicans in the city for the soccer World Cup, Russian officials and eyewitnesses said.
Moscow’s traffic management authority said the taxi driver had a driver’s licence issued in Kyrgyzstan, a mainly Muslim ex-Soviet republic. The authority cited the driver, who was in police custody, as saying he had not driven into the crowd on purpose.
Police said seven people were hurt in the incident, which took place as residents and visiting soccer fans thronged the centre of Moscow on a balmy summer evening.
A witness at the scene told Reuters that some of the people hit were wearing Mexican team colours. Mexico take on Germany on Sunday in their first World Cup match at Moscow’s Luzhniki stadium, and thousands of Mexican fans are in the Russian capital.
A second witness at the scene told Reuters about the driver of the taxi: “He was pulled out of the vehicle, he ran off but bystanders apprehended him. He was shouting: ‘It wasn’t me’.”
Asked if the driver appeared drunk, the witness said: “No, he wasn’t drunk.”
Interfax news agency cited a source as saying that the driver was drunk at the time of the incident. A medical source cited by Interfax said none of the people hospitalised was critically injured.
Russian authorities have vowed to host a safe soccer World Cup, which is taking place in 11 cities until July 15.
In central Moscow, authorities have installed heavy concrete blocks across the entrances to pedestrianised areas following a spate of incidents in European cities in which vehicles were used to mow down people.
The US State Department on Friday updated its travel advice on Russia, saying terrorist groups were plotting attacks.
“Terrorists may attack with little or no warning, targeting tourist locations, transportation hubs, markets/shopping malls, and local government facilities,” the travel advice stated.—Reuters.