Moscow theater hostage crisis
Moscow theater crisis also referred to as 2002 Nord Ost siege occurred on 23rd September 2002 when fifty Chechen rebels stormed a theater in Moscow taking hostage seven hundred people. They did this during a popular musical “Nord Ost”. The 2nd act had just begun at Moscow Ball-Bearing Plant’s Palace of culture when a man, armed walking onstage firing into the air. The terrorists-women included- with explosives that were strapped on their bodies stated they were Chechen Army members. Their demand was just one that Russian forces should immediately begin withdrawing from Chechnya, a war torn region north of Caucasus Mountains and that they should complete the same.
Chechnya which was predominantly comprised of a Muslim populace had struggled for long to assert its independence. In 1996, a disastrous war that had lasted for 2 years had come to an end but then Russian forces had gone back 3 years later after the Chechens were blamed by Russian authorities for carrying out bombings in Russia. President Vladimir in 2002 was elected because he held a hard-lined positioned towards the Chechens and he had also made the public vow never to indulge in any negotiations with terrorists.
The crisis led to a stand-off that lasted for fifty seven hours and during this time, 2 hostages were killed. Special Russian forces surrounded the theater on October 26th raiding it. It was revealed later that a powerful narcotic gas had been pumped in the building thus rendering all the terrorists as well as the hostages’ unconscious before the team of Special Forces broke in through the roof and walls as well as sewage tunnels that were underground. At the time of the raid, a large number of the terrorists were killed and so did 120 hostages. Later, the security forces defended their decision to use the gas claiming that it was only through such a surprise attack that they could disarm the terrorists before they got time to detonate the explosives strapped to their bodies.
After the crisis, the government of Putin further clamped hard on Chechnya. His government was even accused of torture, kidnappings and other forms of atrocities. Chechen in response planned more terror attacks on the Russians.
During the attack, the leader of the militants had informed the terrorists they did not bear any grudges against foreign nationals who included some from Germany, Ukraine, UK, US and Netherlands. They also made promises to release all those who showed their foreign passports. Movsar Barayev, nephew of slain Arbi Barayev, a militia commander was in charge of the gunmen and they made threats to all hostages unless forces were withdrawn immediately from Chechnya.
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