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Monday, 9 December, 2002, 13:17 GMT
Moscow kidnappers 'posed as traders'
Movsar Barayev. Picture NTV
Movsar Barayev came to Moscow by train
Chechen rebels who took hundreds of people hostage in a Moscow theatre in October reached the capital by posing as traders, say reports from Russia.

About 50 rebels stormed the theatre during a performance of a popular musical. Nearly all the Chechens died - along with around 130 hostages - when Russian troops stormed the building.

The incident sparked questions about how such a large group of armed rebels could have been able to reach Moscow and operate undetected.

Senior prosecutor Viktor Kolchuk told Russia's Rossiya TV channel that the rebels travelled to the capital from the southern region of Dagestan, posing as traders, Itar-Tass news agency reported.

A woman member of the rebel group
Women were led by Zura, the widow of the field commander, Arbi Barayev
The Chechens travelled under high-quality false documents, Mr Kolchuk was quoted as saying.

Weapons and explosives were brought to Moscow by several cars and lorries in secret compartments, according to the report.

It said the Chechens lived in a rented flat and were not allowed to go out.

Commanders

They only knew their direct superiors and found out who was in overall command only after reaching the theatre.

Mr Kolchuk said the women among the rebels were led by Zura, the widow of the prominent Chechen field commander Arbi Barayev.

His nephew Movsar, who headed the attack on the theatre, came to Moscow by train from the town of Mineralniye Vody, a resort in the north Caucasus.

Several other people thought to have been in command of the hostage-taking were mentioned in the TV report, Itar-Tass reported.

One man nicknamed Yasir, identified by his documents as Idris Alkhazurov, was said to be the group's "ideologist". Investigators believe he was trained in Saudi Arabia.

According to the report, a man said to be informing the hostage-takers about developments outside the theatre building has also been arrested.

Mr Kolchuk said that the full investigation into the theatre siege would take several months.

The rebels were demanding a withdrawal of Russian troops from Chechnya.


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03 Dec 02 | Europe
02 Nov 02 | From Our Own Correspondent
26 Oct 02 | Europe
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