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History of Chechen rebels' hostage taking

Ogonek photo

: Gazeta.Ru  Ogonek photo

The storming of a Moscow theatre by Chechen gunmen, the holding of up to 700 hostages and demands that Russia ends the war in Chechnya, is seen as the most audacious attack yet by the separatists from the rebellious Caucasian republic. Throughout the last few years there have been several similar terrorist acts carried out by the rebels.

June 14, 1995 - An armed group headed by influential rebel leader and notorious warlord Shamil Basayev seized a hospital in the southern Russian town of Budyonnovsk. The rebels demanded that the federal authorities suspend hostilities in Chechnya and launch peace talks with the separatist government of Dzhokhar Dudayev.

The then-Prime Minister of Russia Viktor Chernomyrdin entered into phone negotiations with the terrorists. After fierce fighting and further negotiations Basayevs gunmen left Budyonnovsk taking a group of hostages who were released after the rebels reached the Chechen border. In the course of the 6-day hostage drama 129 peaceful residents were killed and 415 were wounded (18 of them later died of their wounds). 54 municipal buildings and 110 private houses were either fully or partially destroyed in the fighting. 15 members of Basayevs gang have subsequently been sentenced to lengthy prison terms.

January 9, 1996 - A group of Chechen gunmen under Salman Raduyevs command seized a hospital in the Dagestani town of Kizlyar. According to some sources, Raduyevs gang had up to 300 fighters. Boris Yeltsin took personal control of the situation. Raduyev and his unit took 2000 people hostage. Most of the hostages, however, were released a day later following negotiations. In exchange for the civilians Raduyev received 8 State Duma deputies as guarantors of their safety.

The hostage drama lasted for nearly ten days. Throughout that time Radyuevs men held some 160 people hostage. The rebels used many of them as a human shield on their way to Chechnya. It was agreed that the bandits would free the hostages at the village of Pervomaiskoye en route to Chechnya. When the rebels failed to observe the agreement, the federal forces attacked the rebels convoy. Raduyev and his men then occupied a checkpoint in Pervomaiskoye. After fierce fighting Salman Raduyev fled. Earlier this year Raduyev was sentenced to life in prison on terrorism charges.

January 16, 1996 - A group of Chechen and pro-Chechen Turkish gunmen, headed by well-known Turkish extremist Mohamed Tokdzhan, hijacked the Russian ferry Avrasiya in the port of Trabzon on the Turkish Black Sea coast. The hostage-takers demanded an end to the war in Chechnya. Some 150 passengers, mostly Russians, were held hostage for three days. After talks with local authorities they were released unharmed and the terrorists surrendered.

December 22, 1997 - Rebels attacked the military base of the Russian Armed Forces tank regiment in the Dagestani town in Buinaksk. The number of assailants, including ethnic Chechens, Dagestanis and foreign nationals, amounted to 40. In order to escape from the site of attack safely, the terrorists hijacked a bus and took 20 passengers hostage.

15 March 2001 - Three Chechen terrorists hijacked a Tu-154 jet. The airliner was forced to fly from Istanbul, Turkey to Saudi Arabia. The Tu-154 landed in Jeddah, where Saudi security forces stormed the plane. 1 terrorist, a passenger from Turkey and a Russian stewardess were killed in the shootout.

July 31, 2001 - Thirty people were held near Mineralnye Vody by gunmen calling for Chechen independence. All the hostages were freed after security forces launched a successful rescue operation in which one of the hijackers was killed.

May 4, 2002 - An armed man, claiming to be a defender of the Chechen people, took 13 people hostage in a luxury hotel in central Istanbul, before giving himself up to police with no bloodshed an hour and a half later.

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