GAS AND BULLETS; THEATRE OF DEATH : Russian troops killed KO'd suicide bombers with shots to the head.Byline: ERIC ENGLEMAN in Moscow
MORE than 130 people were killed as Russian special forces stormed the Moscow siege theatre yesterday.
Knockout gas was pumped into the city's Palace of Culture, where Chechen terrorists were holding hundreds of hostages. Then the troops stormed in.
The assault began after the Chechens, including 18 women with explosives strapped to their bodies, began to execute hostages early in the morning.
The troops pumped in the gas to disable To turn off; deactivate. See disabled. the Muslim rebels and prevent them setting off the explosives they had booby-trapped the building with.
Then they stormed in, targeting the rebels and shooting them as they lay knocked out from the effects of the gas.
Most of the unconscious Chechens were executed with a single bullet to the head.
Around their bodies lay empty brandy and wine bottles and discarded dis·card
v. dis·card·ed, dis·card·ing, dis·cards
1. To throw away; reject.
a. To throw out (a playing card) from one's hand.
b. syringes - suggesting the terrorists had been on a drink and drugs binge in the hours leading up to the siege's violent end.
The women had canisters with metal fragments and 4lb of explosives strapped to their bodies.
The camouflage-clad body of the assailants' leader, Movsar Barayev Movsar Buharovich Barayev (Chechen: Мовсар Бухарович Бараев) (October 26, 1979 - October 26, 2002), earlier known as Suleimanov , lay on his back amid blood and broken glass, with a cognac Cognac (kônyäk`), city (1990 pop. 19,932), Charente dept., W France, in Angoumois, on the Charente River. The French brandy to which Cognac gives its name has been manufactured and exported from the city since the 18th cent. bottle next to his lifeless life·less
1. Having no life; inanimate.
2. Having lost life; dead. See Synonyms at dead.
3. Not inhabited by living beings; not capable of sustaining life.
Russian authorities said at least 90 hostages had been killed in the attack - but more than 750 were saved.
There was a 45-minute gun battle but at least nine of the victims are believed to have died from heart attacks or breathing difficulties brought on by the gas, which the Russian authorities would not identify.
Interior minister Vasilyev defended the use of the gas in the assault.
"It helped neutralise Verb 1. neutralise - get rid of (someone who may be a threat) by killing; "The mafia liquidated the informer"; "the double agent was neutralized"
do in, knock off, liquidate, neutralize, waste the kamikaze kamikaze (kä'məkä`zē) [Jap.,=divine wind], the typhoon that destroyed Kublai Khan's fleet, foiling his invasion of Japan in 1281. women," he said. "They had their fingers on the trigger."
"We were scared that at any moment there would be an explosion that would destroy the building."
The rebels had at least 50kg of explosives, which the authorities said could have killed more than 1000 people in the theatre and surrounding area.
Sergei Yastrzhembsky, the presidential spokesman on Chechnya, said they had not expected to save so many people.
After the assault, the bodies of the suicide-bomber women lay sprawled across the theatre seats with their explosives still strapped to their stomachs.
One of the hostages, Olga Chernyak, said the women had made it clear they would die even if their demands were met.
She said: "The terrorists, especially the women among them, told us directly, `We have come here to die and we all want to go to Allah and we will go with you'.
"We were waiting for death. We understood they wouldn't release us alive.
"We didn't believe they would release us even if the demands were met about the removal of troops from Chechnya."
None of the foreigners who were among the hostages were killed during the crisis and no children died.
Many survivors were still unconscious as they were dragged from the theatre and placed on buses to take them to hospital for treatment.
Doctors at Moscow City Hospital 13 said they were suffering from the effects of the gas, heart trouble and shock. Many of them are believed to be seriously ill.
Only two of the 44 Chechens survived the assault. They had taken over the theatre last Wednesday during a performance of the musical Nord-Ost.
Deputy interior minister Vladimir Vasilyev, who was clearly distressed, said there had been no alternative to the storming of the theatre.
He said: "We are grieving grieving Mourning, see there with those close to the hostages who were lost. We couldn't save them."
Vasilyev added the hostage-takers had thoroughly mined the building. He said: "The structure of the building and the threat of an explosion gave evidence that no one would survive in the building if the explosion was powerful enough."
The decision to storm the building was taken just after 5.30am, when two hostages were killed and two wounded by the Chechen gunmen.
They had earlier threatened to begin killing their captives at dawn yesterday.
After the two deaths, officials reached the captors by phone but then quickly said their negotiations had failed. The raid began minutes later.
One young women had been killed in the early hours of the siege, apparently when she tried to escape.
With barely any food or water, the orchestra pit for a toilet and surrounded by increasingly aggressive armed men and women, many hostages had reconciled themselves to a grim fate after 60 hours of captivity.
A female hostage said afterwards af·ter·ward also af·ter·wards
At a later time; subsequently.
afterwards or afterward
later [Old English æfterweard]
Adv. 1. : "They killed two hostages in front of our eyes - a woman and a man. They shot the man in the eye, there was a lot of blood.
"It all happened close to me. I thought they were then going to kill us all."
Russian president Vladimir Putin was informed immediately the raid began.
The presidential press service released a photo of him covering his face after receiving the news in his Kremlin office, less than three miles from the theatre.
The gunmen had released 19 hostages on Friday, including eight children aged between six and 12.
The first signs that the Chechens were carrying out their threat to begin killing came as two of the hostages gave an interview on a Russian radio station.
A large burst of gunfire was heard before the phone was cut off. Just over an hour later, the Russian special forces went in.That drama was also captured on radio.
A female hostage, Anya, was giving an interview as the gas began to be pumped in and the shooting started.
She said: "It seems the Russians have started something. Please give us a chance.
"Our police are doing something. We are all going to be blown up."
Asked by a presenter to describe the gas seeping seep
intr.v. seeped, seep·ing, seeps
1. To pass slowly through small openings or pores; ooze.
2. To enter, depart, or become diffused gradually.
1. into the theatre, she said: "I don't know what kind of gas it is.
"We see it, feel it, we are breathing through our clothes."
As shots rang out in the theatre, Anya said: "I don't know what that is. I am hiding. It began from outside."
She later added: "I thought we were all going to die."
Other hostages told how they feared their fate would be the same as the 118 sailors who died suffocated on the doomed Kursk submarine in August 2000.
A woman - speaking on a mobile phone from inside the theatre - said: "They are gassing us. We really beg not to be gassed. We hope it's not like the Kursk."
One hostage said: "I though they were going to kill us all but something happened and I regained consciousness in casualty.
"It was some sort of special gas. I'm certain we were saved from death."
After the assault, rescuers brought out the hostages, some of them in their best evening wear and many vomiting vomiting, ejection of food and other matter from the stomach through the mouth, often preceded by nausea. The process is initiated by stimulation of the vomiting center of the brain by nerve impulses from the gastrointestinal tract or other part of the body. violently.
President Putin visited the hospital late yesterday to talk to the freed hostages.
Nikita, a teenage singer, told him: "I'd like to have a wash and brush my teeth."