67 Hostages Die in Release Operation, Over 750 Rescued

Russian Deputy Minister for Internal Affairs Vladimir Vasilyev told journalists that 67 hostages died at the storm of the theatre in Moscow, over 750 people were released; 34 terrorists were killed.

Vladimir Vasilyev says that “if the operation failed, a thousand of people, or even more would die.” The decision to start the storm was correct, the deputy minister for internal affairs says. According to NEWSru.com, Vladimir Vasilyev doubts that construction of the theatre building would leave at least some people alive if explosions sounded there.

The deputy minister denied information that majority of hostages died of the gas used in the storm.

Vladimir Vasilyev says he talked to Kirtadze, the head physician of the war veterans’ hospital #1, where severely wounded hostages had been brought. There are 104 wounded hostages in the hospital; nine died, but none of them died of poisoning. Kirtadze says that the people died mostly of heart diseases, and explains these lamentable consequences with a three-day stress, starvation, lack of medical aid.

The decision to storm the theatre was made by the operative headquarters set up for the hostages’ release with the HQ commander, FSB deputy director Vladimir Pronichev at head. In Vasilyev’s words, with a view to save lives of the hostages, “the HQ allowed any claims of the terrorists, sometimes even rather unbelievable ones.” “We tried to fulfil all claims set up by the terrorists. But everything we heard them say, made us think more and more about actions to prevent the building from blowing up.” That is why it’s quite natural that parallel to the negotiations with the terrorists, the operative headquarters worked on a special operation.

Vladimir Vasilyev says that preparation for the operation was highly professional, all necessary facilities were employed for it. Much was done to get as many hostages released as possible, special particular negotiations were held concerning release of hostage children. “We felt real danger, that is why it was decided to start the special operation. And we admit responsibility for it. The Prosecutor’s Office will give its estimate to the work of the headquarters,” the deputy minister for internal affairs says.

Right after the storm of the theatre, Russian newspaper Moskovsky Komsomolets talked to a soldier participating in the storm who told about the hostage release.

“We think everything was done professionally, as it is fixed in the operative instructions. It is really very important that we were a success in the psychological war. There was leakage of information saying that the storm would start at 3:00 a.m. The terrorists pricked up the ears, but no storm followed. Then they started firing. It is quite natural that as a consequence of it, the terrorists relaxed. We started the storm at 5:00 a.m. Sleeping gas was let into the theatre hall through the ventilation, several grenades were fired right in the hall. We managed to liquidate the female kamikaze: soldiers penetrated into the hall through special crawlways and shot the sleeping terrorists point-blank. Right at the temple. I agree that it’s cruel, but when you see a man with two kilograms of plastid strapped to the body, there is no other way to neutralize him. Besides, panic spread immediately. Here, we once again suffered from our constant mistake: lack of coordination between the actions of subdivisions. Several terrorists in the corridor started firing, those people who were not asleep after the gas penetrated into the theatre, rushed out of the hall. They ran against the special forces troops that blocked the exits.

As a result, soldiers remaining in the hall opened fire against the balconies, luckily none was wounded at that. In the mess several terrorists managed to escape. By the way, there were several people outside the theatre building, not two as was reported earlier, who communicated with the terrorists over cell phones and told them what was going on outside the building. By the way, they were not of Caucasian appearance at all. We noticed these people at once and closely watched them all the time. I should say that on the whole we are satisfied with the course of the operation. Our soldiers are elated by the success, especially that it was the first successful operation over several past years.”

President Vladimir Putin held a meeting with RF Defense Minister Sergey Ivanov, Minister for Internal Affairs Boris Gryzov, FSB Director Nikolay Patrushev and Foreign Intelligence Service Director Sergey Lebedev. The information was provided by the president’s press-secretary Alexey Gromov; no details concerning the agenda have been published yet.

Translated by Maria Gousseva

Photo by NTV-TV.Ru

Read the original in Russian: http://www.pravda.ru/1/last_news_1.html

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