10 Terror Hostage Situations That Changed The World


2. Moscow Theater Siege 2002

On October 23rd, 2002, 40 Chechen militants took over the Dubrovka Theater in Moscow. The militants took over the theater as a way to support the separatist movement in Chechnya. The theater proved almost impossible for a successful rescue which led the Russians to extreme tactics.

The Dubrovka Theater was designed in a way that made any raid on the theater nearly impossible. Troops entering the theater would have to enter though a narrow hallway and up a set of stairs. The rescuers would be sitting ducks to the terrorists who were guarding these areas. The terrorists also had several explosives which they planned to detonate if any rescue was attempted. On the first day over 150 people were released namely children, pregnant women, Muslims, foreigners and those with health issues. Hostages were used to relay the message to Putin to stop hostilities in Chechnya and not to storm the building.

On the second day numerous attempts at negotiation were made and 39 hostages were set free. Foreign leaders also began negotiations and the terrorists agreed to release the foreigners. On day three the terrorists agreed to the release of 75 foreign hostages and 15 Russian hostages. The Russians agreed to spare the lives of the terrorists if the rest of the hostages were released. Instead, two female hostages were killed during an altercation in the theater. This prompted the Russians to act.

With no safe way for soldiers to enter, it was decided that a chemical gas would be pumped into the theater. The gas was highly toxic and knocked everyone in the theater unconscious. All 40 of the terrorists were killed in the ensuing raid. However, 130 hostages also died as a result of adverse reactions to the gas. Following the crisis, many believed that the use of gas was excessive, but both America and Britain believed that the actions of the Russians were justified.