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Friday, September 03, 2004

HOSTAGE SITUATION ENDS
LOCAL OFFICIAL: "MOST" HOSTAGES SURVIVED


DEBKA says 7 children are dead; Stan says 150 people (minimum) are dead, and at least 200 wounded. AP reports that more than 100 bodies were found in the gym where hostages had been held.

There seems to be no concensus on what happened, is happening. There was a Russian military action by special forces; no one seems to know exactly what triggered it, but DEBKA reports Kremlin sources saying the troops were forced to attack after phone intercepts suggested the terrorists planning a massacre. When a truck went in to collect the dead bodies, the action began. Two loud explosions came before the Russian assault.

Some hostages escaped, all the rest have been evacuated and army sappers are removing explosives from the area. Several terrorists have been captured but others ran away, toward the train station. Local people are chasing them down, and at least one has been severely beaten, possibly killed, by an angry mob. There is some fighting between terrorists and Russian troops "around town."

Children are in a "bad state" according to DEBKA, and are still being carried out on stretchers. Many are injured and none have had food, water or hygienic conditions all this time.

ChinaDaily reports that soliders blew a hole in the building to help hostages escape, but some terrorists are still there and possibly in other buildings as well.

There were reports of gunfire in the building and structures ablaze near the school. Huge explosions could be heard and plumes of smoke seen near the school. Small arms fire crackled. . . .

Scenes of the chaotic, chilling ending of the hostage-taking unfolded on television.

Half-naked children dashed out of the school in every direction. Some were carried and helped by parents and adults. Many were bleeding. Others screamed. Many received medical treatment and food and water outside.

Paramedics pulled children out in stretchers and put into cars and ambulances. Some were bandaged and badly injured and others were just simply distraught and relieved to be free. Anxious adults milled around an area near the school where Russian soldiers were stationed.

UPDATE:
Lo and behold, Wahhabi follower behind Russian Hostage-taking

According to the Moscow Times, "the group [of hostage-takers] is probably being led by Magomed Yevloyev, an ethnic Ingush and follower of the radical Islam Wahhabi movement" RIA-Novosti reported, citing law enforcement officials.