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Saturday, 26 October, 2002, 13:54 GMT 14:54 UK
Hostages speak of storming terror
The moment special forces burst in
The moment special forces burst in
A picture of the last minutes of the Moscow theatre siege leading up to the storming of the building by Russian special forces is beginning to emerge, from the accounts of hostages.


Our police are doing something. That's it!... We are all going to be blown up!

Anya, hostage
As the soldiers burst in, two young women with a mobile telephone were talking live on air to the Moscow Echo radio station.

"They are gassing us. All the people are sitting in the hall. We really beg not to be gassed!" said one, fearing for her life.

"We hope it will not be like the Kursk," she added, in a reference to the disaster in which 118 sailors died on board the Kursk submarine in August 2000.

She passed the phone to her friend, Anya, who appealed to the presenter to try to halt the operation.

Anya: "It seems to us that the Russians have started something. Please, give us a chance. If you can do anything, please do!"

Shots ring out

Presenter: "We are trying. Could you explain what are you feeling, what gas is it?"


They shot the man in the eye - there was a lot of blood

Olga Chernyak, journalist and hostage
Anya: "I don't know which gas it is. But I see [the hostage-takers'] reactions. They don't want our deaths, and our officials want none of us to leave alive!"

Presenter: "Anya, can you explain what kind of gas that is? What are you feeling, what do you see?"

Anya: "I don't know. We see it, we feel it, we are breathing through our clothes. Our police are doing something. That's it! [Shots ring out] Can you hear me? We are all going to be blown up!..."

Women hostages on television
Some of the hostages earlier said they were being well treated
Presenter: "What was that shooting?"

Anya: "I don't know. I'm hiding. I don't know... It began from outside. That's what our government has decided - that no one should leave from here alive. We will try.... "

One of the first survivors to talk publicly about her experiences, after being rescued, was a reporter for the Interfax news agency, Olga Chernyak.

She confirmed that Russian special forces only stormed the theatre after the hostage-takers had shot two of their captives.

Waiting for death

"They shot two hostages in front of our eyes - a man and a woman.


They told us: 'We all want to go to Allah, and you will be going with us'

Olga Chernyak
"They shot the man in the eye - there was a lot of blood. I was sitting in the stalls of the theatre, and all this happened next to me. I thought: now they will kill us all."

Olga, who was the first to break the news of the attack on the theatre on Wednesday, lost consciousness at this point because of the effects of the gas pumped into the theatre, and came round much later in hospital.

She said the hostages were all expecting to die.

"We didn't believe they would let us out, even if their demand for the withdrawal of troops from Chechnya had been be satisfied.

"The terrorists, especially the women among them, told us frankly: 'We have come here to die, we all want to go to Allah, and you will be going with us'."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Two female hostages being interviewed
while Russian forces stormed the Moscow theatre

Siege reports

Key stories

Chechen conflict

BBC WORLD SERVICE

AUDIO VIDEO

TALKING POINT
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26 Oct 02 | Europe
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