October 23, 2002
A 3-day siege and hostage crisis begins at the Dubrovka Theater
The assailants, claiming allegiance to the Islamist militant separatist movement in Chechnya, took the hostages in exchange for Russia’s withdrawal from Chechnya. After 2 hostages were shot by the militants 2 and a half days after the standoff began, Russian forces used gas to subdue the attackers before storming the theater.
All 40 militants were killed by Russian forces, and approximately 130 hostages died as a result of complications of the “undisclosed chemical agent” used to subdue the assailants; only the 2 hostages killed before the Russian forces used the gas were by the militants.
British and American governments found the Russian government’s reaction to be heavy handed but justifiable. Russian physicians condemned the decision to not disclose the gas used, which could have saved more lives had doctors known how to approach treating the victims.