Database of terrorist attacks and related events--Johnston's Archive

Moscow, Russia--23-26 October 2002

compiled by Wm. Robert Johnston
last modified 26 November 2017

Date: 23-26 October 2002

Location: Moscow, Russia

Type of event: terrorism


Many hostages and terrorists were killed during attempted rescue of hostages in the Nord-Ost theater in Moscow, Russia. On 23 October 41 Chechen terrorists stormed a theater during performance of a popular play, taking about 800 hostages, including 75 foreigners. About 100 people in the theater were able to escape in the first few minutes, but one woman was shot and killed by the terrorists and another person was injured. The terrorists demanded the withdrawal of Russian forces from Chechnya and released about 50 children and Muslim adults. One police officer was shot and killed during the standoff. The terrorists set a deadline at dawn 26 Oct. and killed two hostages as the deadline approached.

Russian counterterrorist forces pumped an incapacitating gas (fentanyl) into the theater to induce unconsciousness before storming the theater shortly before the deadline. All the terrorists were shot and killed, but not before shooting and killing two more hostages. The fentanyl-based gas killed 124 hostages: some died immediately due to the combined effect of the gas with medical conditions or vomited and suffocated while unconscious; others died in hospitals over the next few days from complications including liver poisoning. Hostages killed included 9 non-Russians: 1 from Armenia, 1 from Austria, 1 from Azerbaijan, 1 from Belarus, 1 from Kazakhstan, 1 from the Netherlands, 2 from the Ukraine, and 1 from the U.S. In total, 129 hostages died and 653 were rescued. Of those rescued, 501 had been treated and released by 31 October; about 40 were seriously injured, but some were readmitted later.

Consequences: 170 killed, 656 injured


© 2017 by Wm. Robert Johnston.
Last modified 26 November 2017.
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