Moscow Theatre Siege

The Moscow theatre siege, also known as the 2002 Nord-Ost siege, was the seizure of a crowded Moscow theatre on 23rd October 2002 by over 40 armed Chechen terrorists. The terrorists had automatic weapons, suicide belts, grenades and constructed further explosive devices and canisters of gasoline around 850 hostages.

Sewers under the theatre were used by Russian Special Forces to get close enough to use listening devices. After a two-and-a-half day siege, Russian authorities monitoring conversations between the terrorists discovered that they were preparing to detonate their devices to kill all the hostages and themselves, signalling the need for urgent action.

Later that day, a distraught father of a child hostage jumped over police barricades and ran into the building. He was forced by the terrorists to kneel in front of the hostages and shot in the head.

When the terrorists executed a child hostage that threw a bottle at them, Russian commandos pumped an incapacitating opium-based gas into the building’s ventilation system and stormed the theatre. From all sides, dozens of troops swarmed in: one squad burst into the auditorium from the theatre’s basement. Another unit burst through the front door. Gun battles erupted with some terrorists that were still-conscious. 39 terrorists were eventually killed by Russian forces.  129 of the hostages (nine of them foreigners) died in the attack or the aftermath. However, many more hostages that seemed to be facing certain death at the hands of the suicide fanatics a few hours earlier were saved. A handful of surviving terrorists were taken into custody.