The taking of hostages by Chechen terrorists

* On November 9, 1991 an eight-man Chechen gang hijacked a Tupolev Tu-154 passenger airliner, which was flying from Mineralnye Vody to Yekaterinburg. The plane subsequently landed in Ankara, Turkey. The terrorists surrendered to Turkish authorities, which eventually allowed them to return to Chechnya. The plane and its passengers were returned to Grozny.

*In August 1992 a Chechen terrorist hijacked a Tu-154 jet-liner, which was flying along the Grozny-Moscow route. The criminal, who threatened to explode a hand-grenade, demanded that the crew head toward Turkey. The plane landed at Moscow's Vnukovo airport in order to refuel. Talks with the terrorist produced no results. A special-police platoon then stormed the aircraft, killing the thug. The crew and passengers were not hurt.

* On May 26, 1994 four armed Chechens seized the Vladikavkaz-Stavropol excursion bus, which was carrying school students, their parents and teachers (about 30 people, all told), near Kinzhal town in Stavropol territory. The terrorists demanded drugs, a refuelled helicopter minus its crew, $10 million and weapons, as well. The thugs released all children and several adults, after negotiating with the authorities. On May 27 the chopper took off and shaped course toward Dagestan, eventually landing on Chechen territory. The bandits were subdued in an hour. No hostages were hurt.

* On July 29, 1994 Chechen terrorists seized a helicopter and hostages at the Mineralnye Vody airport. A SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactics) unit tried to storm the chopper, with one terrorist detonating a hand-grenade inside the passenger compartment. 19 passengers were injured as a result; four of them later died of their wounds. All terrorists were detained.

* On June 14, 1995 two KAMAZ trucks carrying armed people drove into the city of Budennovsk, Stavropol territory. On June 17 Chechen bandits seized the local hospital, saying that they wanted the Russian army to stop hostilities in Chechnya. Russian law-enforcement agencies began to storm the hospital in the early hours of June 17, with the terrorists retreating toward the Chechen border; they took more than 200 hostages, mostly women and children, with them.

On June 20 Shamil Basayev talked to Radio Liberty over the phone, noting that he was ready to release all hostages in Zandak and to leave for Chechnya in exchange for written guarantees for himself and his bandits. The Chechens released all hostages near the Zandak mountain village.

130 civilians, 18 police officers and 18 soldiers were killed as a result of the June 14-19,1995 outrage. More than 400 people were injured to a varying extent. The Chechens took about 2,000 people hostage.

* On January 9, 1996 a gang headed by Salman Raduyev seized a hospital in the city of Kizlyar, Dagestan. The bandits seized its maternity ward, as well as a near-by nine-storey apartment house, subsequently herding hostages, mostly women and children, from all over Kizlyar there. The Chechens planted mines all over four floors of that building. They also wielded Stinger Manpads (Man-Portable Air-Defense Systems), eventually sealing off the local airfield. A thug contacted the Kizlyar commandant's office, saying that he and his cronies had seized 3,000 people. The bandits threatened to execute 15 hostages for every Chechen killed, also demanding that they be allowed to return to Chechen territory that was not controlled by federal forces. Talking over a local radio hook-up, Raduyev said that Chechen "wolves" had entered the city, and that they won't leave, unless Russia withdraws its troops from the North Caucasus. On January 11 the gang climbed aboard buses, which were provided by Russian authorities, subsequently leaving for Chechnya. More than 100 hostages were used as a live shield. The bus convoy was stopped by federal units near Pervomaiskoye village on the Chechen border. After that, the thugs seized policemen at a near-by fortified outpost, eventually setting up defensive positions in the village itself.

They forced the hostages to dig trenches; moreover, some hostages were told to stay inside buses (in spite of cold nights) for the sake of preventing any federal attacks on terrorist positions.

On January 13,1996 Russian SWAT units, who were supported by helicopter gunships and artillery systems, moved to attack Pervomaiskoye. Choppers and artillery guns blasted Chechen positions, thus enabling the attackers to enter the village. 36 traffic-police officers from Novosibirsk voluntarily turned themselves in, asking the bandits to release all women and children in return. However, the women refused to leave their husbands behind.

FSB (Federal Security Service) director Mikhail Barsukov ordered the bandits to release all hostages and to lay down their weapons by January 14, promising them safe conduct to Chechnya. The terrorists ignored this ultimatum, shooting at federal forces January 14 and wounding four soldiers as a result.

On January 15 Russian units attacked the village, what with helicopters and artillery guns covering them. This decision was made, after the bandits started executing hostages. For instance, they killed old sages and six Novosibirsk policemen in the morning of January 15. The federals completed this operation January 18; however, some bandits managed to break out, subsequently going to Chechnya.

Raduyev was arrested during a special operation in 2001 and eventually sentenced to life imprisonment.

* On March 15, 2001 a Tu-154 jet-liner, which took off from Istanbul's Kemal Ataturk airport for Moscow, was hijacked 30 minutes later. The plane then landed in Medina, Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabian law-enforcement agencies eventually captured the terrorists; unfortunately, a Russian stewardess and a Turkish citizen were killed. One hijacker also died during the attack. The aircraft was hijacked by a man named Magomerzayev, as well as Muhammed Tokchan and the Arsayev brothers from Chechnya.

The hijacked plane's passengers and its crew returned to Moscow March 17.

The terrorists, who faced the death penalty in line with Shariah law, were, nonetheless, sentenced to short prison terms.

* On July 31, 2001 Chechen terrorist Sultan Said Ediyev seized a bus, which was driving from Nevinnomyssk to Stavropol, in Mineralnye Vody. The terrorist demanded the release of five criminals, who were sentenced for hijacking a passenger airliner in Mineralnye Vody in 1994. Alpha anti-terrorist units stormed the bus, killing the thug. No hostages were hurt.

* On October 23, 2002 a group of terrorists seized the Dubrovka theater center in Moscow, taking several hundred spectators and actors hostage. The bandits demanded that the federal center stop its counter-terrorist operation in Chechnya, also threatening to blow up the theater. The terrorists started executing their hostages in the early hours of October 26. Consequently, Russian authorities decided to storm the building in order to prevent an all-out massacre. According to preliminary reports, 32 terrorists were killed; and another two were arrested.

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Author`s name Editorial Team