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October 26, 2002
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67 unarmed Russian hostages murdered by Chechen Islamic terrorists

Reuters reports that 67 Russian hostages were deliberately murdered by Chechen Islamic terrorists after Russian special troops stormed in while trying to free them:

Sixty-seven hostages were killed when Russian special forces stormed a Moscow theater at dawn on Saturday to end a three-day siege by Chechen rebels.

Deputy Interior Minister Vladimir Vasilyev said 750 hostages held since Wednesday night by the heavily armed guerrillas in the capital had been saved in the operation.

Nearly all the rebels, 34, were killed.

"We saved more than 750 people...67 were lost," Vasilyev told reporters outside the theater. He added that no children were killed in the operation.

I am outraged at the language used by many media outlets and Reuters who describe the murderers as "Chechen rebels" instead of Islamic terrorists. That said, it shows that "Palestinian militants" are not the only Islamo-fascists who benefit from the media's PC.

My heart goes to the families of the hostages that were massacred by the Islamo-freaks.

I copy below the full article and a much better article from edinburghnews.com.

Moscow Theater Siege Ends, 67 Hostages Die
By Elizabeth Piper, Reuters.com, October 26, 2002 06:21 AM ET
http://reuters.com/news_article.jhtml?
type=worldnews&StoryID=1637106

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Sixty-seven hostages were killed when Russian special forces stormed a Moscow theater at dawn on Saturday to end a three-day siege by Chechen rebels.

Deputy Interior Minister Vladimir Vasilyev said 750 hostages held since Wednesday night by the heavily armed guerrillas in the capital had been saved in the operation.

Nearly all the rebels, 34, were killed.

"We saved more than 750 people...67 were lost," Vasilyev told reporters outside the theater. He added that no children were killed in the operation.

Many of the survivors were suffering from gas poisoning, supporting reports security forces had pumped knock-out fumes into the theater before staging their morning attack.

Officials say that troops forced their way into the theater after rebels, some with explosives wrapped around them, executed two male hostages to press their demand that Russia pull its troops out of their separatist southern homeland.

A woman hostage had also been shot dead earlier in the siege while trying to escape.

The end of the drama, which brought the distant Chechen war to the heart of Moscow, will be a relief to President Vladimir Putin whose own position was being tested by the crisis.

He called at one of Moscow's top hospitals to visit survivors for about 10 minutes before being whisked away in his motorcade.

Officials gave no more details of the dead hostages but Australian and British diplomats said they had been told none of the estimated 75 foreign captives were among them.

GAS POISONING

A doctor from Moscow's main emergency hospital, Sklifosovsky, said he was treating 42 patients for gas poisoning.

The guerrilla commander, Movsar Barayev, was among those killed in an assault that Russia's deputy interior minister said had prevented a massacre of those seized while watching a popular Russian musical on Wednesday evening.

The theater-goers, enjoying a new Moscow craze for musicals and guzzling caviar and Russian champagne, had been watching "Nord-Ost" (North-East) -- about a Russian Arctic explorer.

By Saturday morning, the plush theater seats were empty except for a few black-clad bodies of dead Chechen guerrillas.

"We succeeded in preventing mass deaths and the collapse of the building which we had been threatened with," Vasilyev told reporters as ambulances took away survivors of the ordeal.

In freezing rain, the hostages were ferried quickly out of the theater, many to hospital and away from waiting journalists.

The Muslim rebels, who had rigged up explosives throughout the building, had threatened to start killing their hostages early on Saturday if they did not see evidence their demands that Moscow's troops pull out of Chechnya were being met.

Some relatives of hostages said they had been terrified when they knew troops would storm the theater to end the siege.

"All the parents were of the same opinion that the storming would be absolutely unacceptable. It's like a mystery, like a miracle for us. We were amazed that this could happen like this, without (many) casualties," said the father of one girl who had been among the hostages, and who survived.

TEST FOR PUTIN

The guerrillas' daring raid had set Putin the toughest test of his two and a half years in the Kremlin.

His startling rise to the presidency was largely based on his sending troops back into Chechnya in 1999 after a three-year absence, a popular move which earned him a reputation as a tough and effective leader.

Humiliated by the audacious rebel attack, Putin went on national television on Friday evening to say he was open to talks with Chechen guerrillas, but under his terms.

"We are open to any kind of contacts," a somber Putin said in his second set of televised comments since the attack.

He insisted that past conditions stood, notably that separatists lay down their weapons. Moscow also rejects any idea of independence for Chechnya, which Russian troops first invaded to crush a separatist movement in December 1994.

Some analysts have said that the siege would almost certainly tarnish his position, if only for showing that the law-and-order regime he promised was not very effective if a band of heavily armed guerrillas could so easily take over a crowded building in the capital.

But one bystander, Igor Konstantinov, in his 60s, was in no doubt about what he thought.

"Putin has only one choice. (U.S. President George W.) Bush showed the world what to do with these bastards after September 11. It's Putin's turn to liquidate them in Russia."

Putin links Russia's conflict in Chechnya to the U.S.-led global war on terrorism, which he enthusiastically backed after last year's September 11 attacks on the United States.

QUESTIONS OVER CHECHNYA

The siege and its closeness to the heart of Russia is certain to raise new questions over how the Kremlin should deal with the protracted secessionist war in the tiny North Caucasus region.

Though Putin won over voters with his hardline approach, many question whether it is succeeding and point to a series of humiliations of the military by Chechen rebels in recent months.

But one analyst, speaking before the siege was over, feared that what he had seen as glimmers of hope for a change in Kremlin policy to seek a political, rather than military solution, could have now been snuffed out for theater attack.

Russian Interior Minister Boris Gryzlov was quoted by local news agencies as saying over 30 people "who tried to help the terrorists" had been detained in locations across Moscow.

But he was also quoted as saying he had ordered his ministry to take measures to prevent any upsurge of anti-Chechen feelings in all parts of Russia. (Additional reporting by Larisa Sayenko).


Theatre of death
By JOHN RUTTER and STEPHANIE TODD
http://www.edinburghnews.com/
index.cfm?id=1192652002

THE three-day siege at a Moscow theatre where up to 700 people were held hostage by Chechen terrorists ended in a bloodbath today when Russian special forces stormed the building.

Dozens of gunmen and up to 30 hostages were killed as the crisis was brought to an end after the terrorists began carrying out their threat to kill hostages.

Most of the captives were freed and none of the foreigners held in the building - believed to

number about 75 - were among the hostages who died, according to a reports at the scene. The raid was accompanied by the release of sleeping gas inside the theatre and many of the freed hostages who were taken to hospitals in city buses were unconscious or having clear difficulty walking.

Earlier reports said some of the estimated 50 gunmen were believed to have fled during the chaos into the enormous Russian capital, but Federal Security Service chief Nikolai Patrushev later told President Vladimir Putin that none of the captors had escaped.

He said 34 of the gunmen were killed and an unspecified number seized. In the same meeting with Mr Putin, interior minister Boris Gryzlov said about 30 accomplices of the gunmen had been arrested in the Moscow area.

At least three people were killed by the gunmen inside the theatre.

The hostage-takers had earlier threatened to begin killing their captives at dawn today but, following two deaths earlier in the morning, officials talked to the captors by phone. They quickly said their negotiations had failed, and the raid began.

Russian television footage from inside the theatre showed the camouflage-clad body of the gunmen’s leader Movsar Barayev, lying on his back amid blood and broken glass. In the theatre hall, the corpses of several of the female captors, dressed in black robes and head coverings, were found sprawled among the theatre’s seats.

Canisters loaded with explosives and metal fragments were attached to the waists of some of the captors, who had threatened to blow up the theatre if their demand for Russian troops’ withdrawal from the rebel republic of Chechnya was not met.

Speaking in Moscow, British ambassador Sir Roderick Lyne said: "We have been told that none of the foreign hostages were killed, but we are still waiting for further details and confirmed information on the two British hostages. So far as we know they’re all right. Given that up to 700 hostages were being held by over 30 apparently heavily armed terrorists who were making extreme demands and were reported by the Russian authorities to me late last night not to be negotiating seriously and who were threatening to kill people, then it sounds as if a risk to several hundred lives may have been averted by this action."

"It’s highly unfortunate and very distressing if hostages have been killed, but if the figures are really that low, given the hundreds of people in that theatre, the amount of explosives that might have been in there, or was reported to have been in there, one can only say that a major disaster may have been averted by this action."

Forty-two survivors were being treated for gas poisoning at Moscow’s top emergency Sklifosovsky hospital.

Outside, dozens of hostages’ relatives gathered waiting for word or the appearance of their family.

The mother of one of the hostages, Galina Dolotova, said her 32-year-old daughter appeared to have been one of the hostages least affected by the gas, but even at that "she was in terrible shape" when she was brought out.

There were no immediate reports of any deaths among the forces that stormed the building.

The assault on the building came on the fourth day of the crisis, after a night of heavy explosions and repeated bursts of gunfire.

Sergei Ignatchenko, spokesman for the Federal Security Service, said the operation to free the hostages began when the Chechen rebels began executing them.

Mr Putin was informed and was following developments, Russian news agencies reported.

The presidential press service released a photo of him covering his face upon receiving the news in his Kremlin office, just under three miles from the theatre.

Late yesterday, Anna Politkovskaya, a Russian journalist who is respected by Chechens for her reporting on the war, was called in by the rebels to mediate. She said they promised to release the hostages if Mr Putin declared an end to the war in Chechnya and began withdrawing troops.

Foremost among the demands were Mr Putin’s declaration of an end to the war and the start of a Russian withdrawal from one region anywhere in Chechnya to show good will. If verified, the rebels promised to free the hostages.

The demand was the first time that the gunmen revealed specific conditions for freeing the hostages. The Kremlin made only one public counter-offer, saying that the hostage-takers’ lives would be guaranteed if they freed their captives. The gunmen released 19 hostages yesterday, including eight children aged between six and 12. Dressed in winter coats, the children appeared healthy as they left the building with by Red Cross workers.

Seven adults were freed earlier in the day, and four citizens of Azerbaijan were released after dark, Russian officials said.

Ms Politkovskaya, a reporter for the independent Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta, arranged for the hostage-takers to accept deliveries of water and warm meals for the captives.

She was one of several influential figures who entered the theatre yesterday in efforts to mediate with the captors. They also included former Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov and Ruslan Aushev, the former president of Ingushetia, a region bordering Chechnya. The hostage-takers had derided the Kremlin for not sending in high-level officials.

Deputy Interior Minister Vladimir Vasilyev said attempts had been made to contact Aslan Maskhadov, a rebel leader and president of Chechnya between Russian troops’ withdrawal in 1996 and resumption of the war three years later.

"The leader of the terrorist act is Maskhadov. It was organised with his participation," Mr Vasilyev said in televised comments, while state-run Russian networks broadcast footage meant to prove the link. From a tape apparently made sometime since June, the footage showed Maskhadov saying rebels have shifted from guerrilla warfare to an "offensive" strategy and adding: "I am certain that in the final stage we will carry out a still more unique action, like the jihad, and with this operation we will liberate our land from the Russian aggressors."

Hostages gave varying accounts of conditions in the theatre yesterday , with one saying the captives hadn’t received food or water and been using the orchestra pit as a toilet.

A group of about 80 demonstrators outside the theatre carried banners and chanted anti-war slogans. Several said they were responding to requests from relatives who were among the hostages.

Alexander Petrov, a demonstrator who said he had friends inside the theatre, said previously he had not been opposed to the Chechen war, but now: "What way out is there?"

Dozens of cast members of the musical Nord-Ost, which was showing when the theatre was taken by the rebels, showed up yesterday to sing tunes from the musical, tears coursing down their faces, in a gesture of support and concern for their comrades inside.

Countdown to last act of theatre drama

FRIDAY afternoon - negotiators report gunmen are threatening to shoot hostages by 10pm unless the government moves on their demands that Russia’s military pull out of Chechnya.

4.45pm - The head of the FSB domestic security service, Nikolai Patrushev, promises that guerrillas will not be killed if they free their hostages.

8pm - President Vladimir Putin says on television he remains open for contacts, but only on the basis of his previous tough stand over Chechnya.

10.35pm - Kremlin officials announce the release of three women and one man, all hostages from ex-Soviet Azerbaijan.

Midnight - Anna Politkovskaya, a journalist respected by Chechens for her war reports, says after talks with the rebels that they will take "the most serious measures" unless given evidence of a plan to withdraw troops.

2.30am today - Medics take two hostages, a man and a woman, out of the theatre and put them into ambulances. It is reported both had gunshot wounds.

3.25am - A loud explosion is heard outside the theatre, followed by shots. There is no immediate explanation.

5.30am - Gunfire and explosions resound outside the theatre. Sirens blare, a black van speeds towards the building. Thirty troops move towards the building.

5.50am - An official says the guerrillas have shot dead two of their captives and wounded two.

6.30am - A heavy gun battle erupts. Special forces pour into the building. A series of explosions and gunfire are heard. Five female hostages run out.

7.10am - Gunmen are taken out the theatre with their hands behind their backs. Many hostages leave or are brought out of the building, while corpses are also carried out.

7.20am - An official says Russian forces have taken control of the theatre and killed the commander of the group of around 50 gunmen. Rescuers see dozens of dead or injured lying on the pavement.

7.45am - An official says the operation was launched after the rebels started killing their captives, who then tried to escape.

8.15 a.m. - Deputy Interior Minister Vladimir Vasilyev says most gunmen have been killed. Security officials later announce that 34 rebels were killed with others rounded up.

Diplomats put the toll among hostages at no more than ten, but city mayor Yuri Luzhkov says the figure is closer to 30.

Holy war of 25-year-old terror chief

THE 25-year-old leader of the terrorist group that stormed Moscow’s theatre and held up to 700 people hostage was a Chechen soldier trained to fight Russian troops.

Movsar Barayev was described as a fledgling field commander with an unshakeable faith in militant Islam, who named his group the Islamic Special Purpose Regiment. He also claimed the regiment has hundreds of active fighters willing to die for his cause.

Many of the older Chechen field commanders were killed during two recent wars with Russia. Since then, Chechen fighters have splintered into separate groups, each vying for military supremacy.

Barayev’s daring will have undoubtedly won his group converts at home, where people brutalised by war are ready to contemplate any means to fight to the enemy.

His gang has also been linked to the murder of three British telephone engineers and their New Zealand colleagues whose heads were discovered near the Chechen border.

Since fighting began in the Russian republic in 1994, the struggle has become a holy war to rid Chechnya and its Islamic neighbours of oppressors.

Barayev and his followers had said they would only settle for total Russian withdrawal from the Caucasus - a step which experts say is beyond contemplation for Moscow.

Two Britons believed to be rescued

TWO British nationals are understood to have escaped safely from the Moscow theatre where Chechen rebels were threatening to execute hundreds of hostages, the Foreign Office said today.

Richard Low, 20, and his mother, Sidica, were among the audience watching a popular Russian musical when about 50 armed rebels took over the venue on Wednesday.

Mr Low had been in Moscow as part of his modern languages degree at Oxford, while his Romanian-born mother, a physics technician, had been there to visit him.

They were among 71 foreign nationals, including Americans, Dutch, Australians, Austrians and Germans, who were held.

Between 100 and 200 hostages, mainly women and children, were released shortly after the siege started - just before the second act of the Russian musical Nord-Ost.

A further eight children, one of them Swiss, and 11 men and women were released yesterday, telling of appalling conditions in the building, which is about two-and-a half miles from the Kremlin.

A hot water pipe had burst, causing flooding, and hostages were using the orchestra pit as a toilet.

Richard Low’s father Peter, 59, a retired advertising executive from north London, was released yesterday after he was taken ill. He was last night "comfortable" in hospital.

Posted by David Melle at October 26, 2002 04:08 AM
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