The Hostage Taking and Attempted Rescue in Theatre in Moscow

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On October 23, 2002 the hostage taking occurred in the Ball-Bearing Plants Palace of culture in Moscow.

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October 23, 2002 at 21:15 armed men in camouflage came in the central Theater on Melnikov Street. At that time there was the musical "Nord-Ost", there were more than 700 people in the room. Terrorists have declared that all the people - spectators and theater workers are now hostages, after that they started to mine the building with explosives. In the first few minutes some of the actors and theater workers managed to escape from the building through windows and emergency exits.

At 10 p.m. it was reported that the building of the theater was taken by the squad of Chechen fighters led by Movsar Barayev, there were women with explosives strapped to their bodies among the terrorists (Modest Silin, Hostage, Nord-Ost siege).

On October 24 in the first quarter of the night there was made first attempt to make contact with the terrorists: Aslambek Aslakhanov, deputy from Chechnya, entered the building. In the first half of the night a few gunshots were fired in the building. The hostages, who managed to contact with television companies via mobile phones asked military forces to do not begin the assault: "These people [terrorists] say that for each their dead or wounded man they will kill 10 hostages"( Tavernise S.).

In the morning, after the attempt of special services to make a contact with the terrorists the deputy Joseph Kobzon, a British journalist Mark Franchetti and two Red Cross doctors entered the building. Soon the hostages - woman with three children - were taken out of the building (Chechen rebels release some hostages.). At 7 p.m. the Qatari television station "Al Jazeera" showed the appeal of Movsar Barayevs insurgents that was recorded a few days before the hostages capture in the Palace of culture: the terrorists claimed themselves the suicide bombers, and demanded the withdrawal of Russian military troops from Chechnya. There were continued unsuccessful attempts to persuade the militants to take food and water for the hostages from 7 p.m. until midnight.

On October 25 in the morning the terrorists passed Leonid Roshal in the building, he was the director of emergency surgery department of Medical Center for Catastrophes. He brought medicines for the hostages and gave them first aid.

In the morning the spontaneous meeting appeared near the Palace of culture. Relatives and friends of the hostages demanded to fulfill all requirements of the terrorists. At 3 p.m. in the Kremlin Russian president Vladimir Putin held a meeting with the heads of the Interior ministry and the Federal Security Service. Following the meeting, director of FSS Nikolai Patrushev said that the authorities are ready to save the life of the terrorists, if they release all hostages.

From 8 to 9 p.m. the head of the Commerce chamber Yevgeny Primakov, the former president of Ingushetia, Ruslan Aushev, deputy Aslambek Aslakhanov and singer Alla Pugacheva tried to make contact with the militants.

On October 26 at 5:30 there were made three explosions and gunshots in front of the Palace of Culture. At 6 a.m. special forces began the assault, during which the nerve gas was used (Russia names Moscow Siege Gas). At 6:30 in the morning spokesman of the FSS said that Theatre center is under control of the security services, Movsar Barayev, and most of the terrorists are eliminated. At the same time, many cars of Ministry of Emergency Situations and emergencies drove up to the building as well as buses. The rescuers and the doctors took out the hostages of the building and transported them to the hospital.

At 7:25 presidential aide Sergei Yastrzhembsky officially declared that operation of hostages release is completed. The number of terrorists neutralized only in the Theater center included 50 people - 18 women and 32 men. Three terrorists were detained. On November 7, 2002 the Moscow Prosecutor's Office has published a list of people who died as a result of the actions of terrorists who seized Theater Senter. This sad list included 128 people: 120 Russians and citizens from 8 countries of near and far abroad. Five hostages were shot and wounded as a result of terrorists actions. Four of the hostages were not identified for a long time, and their names were not included in the list of health authorities (Moscow theatre siege: Questions remain unanswered).

Works Cited

Chechen rebels release some hostages. Sydney Morning Herald. 2002.

Modest Silin, Hostage, Nord-Ost siege. Russia Today. 2002.

Moscow theatre siege: Questions remain unanswered. BBC. 2002

Russia names Moscow Siege Gas. BBC. 2002.

Tavernise, S. Hostage Drama in Moscow: Hostage Voices; Cellphones Let Families Hear Ordeal Of Captives. The New York Times. 2002.

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