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Saturday, 26 October, 2002, 09:18 GMT 10:18 UK
Moscow hostage crisis: timeline
Russian special forces evacuate a hostage
Russian special forces evacuate a hostage
Russian forces have ended the hostage crisis in Moscow, storming the theatre where the Chechen rebels had been holding hundreds of people since Wednesday night.

BBC News Online looks back at the key events leading up to the dramatic rescue operation.

2100 (1700GMT) Wednesday: About 50 masked Chechen rebels - men and women - take hundreds of hostages at a theatre in south-east Moscow during a popular musical.

They demand that Russia withdraws its troops from Chechnya within a week, threatening to blow up the building. Negotiations begin, and about 30 hostages are freed.

1400 (1000GMT) Thursday: In his first statement, Russian President Vladimir Putin says the raid was planned by "foreign terrorist centres".

The hostages appeal to the president to halt the war and not to storm the building.

1830 (1430GMT) Thursday: Two women manage to escape from the theatre, one of them is injured by the Chechens.

The body of another woman, shot dead by the rebels, is evacuated.

0630 (0230GMT) Friday: Seven more hostages are released, and the rebels promise to free all 75 foreigners.

1230 (0830GMT) Friday: Eight children are freed, but the attackers do not release the foreigners.

1900 (1300GMT) Friday: President Putin, in a second statement, says the priority is to save lives of the hostages.

The rebels ignore Russia's offer guaranteeing their lives in exchange for the release of the hostages and threaten to start killing hostages at 0600 (0200GMT) on Saturday if their demands are not met. 19 more hostages are released.

0330 Saturday (2330GMT Friday): A loud explosion and gunshots are heard inside the theatre.

Russian officials say two hostages have been executed. A group of hostages tries to escape from the building.

0530 (0130GMT) Saturday: Russian special forces begin their assault of the theatre and a gun battle ensues.

0720 (0320GMT) Saturday: Security forces reported to be in complete control of the building.


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Chechen conflict

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26 Oct 02 | Europe
26 Oct 02 | Talking Point
26 Oct 02 | Europe
25 Oct 02 | Europe
25 Oct 02 | Europe
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