In 2002 a group of heavily armed Muslim extremists from the Russian province of Chechnya burst into a crowded Moscow theatre during a musical performance, holding more than 800 members of the cast and audience hostage at siege.
The 57 hour catastrophe, which gripped the world and shook the Russian government was captured by the theatre’s video camera.
Playing at the theatre that night was a popular Russian musical “Nord-Ost”, a musical about the Red Army in World War II, so when masked gunmen burst on stage, the audience at first thought that it was all part of the show – the terrifying moment was captured by the theatre’s video camera.
But when the gunmen announced that if the Russian Army didn’t get out of Chechnya they would blow up the theatre, the audience realised that they had just become players in a terrifying real-life drama. Video footage, shot during the siege by one of the terrorists, shows what the Russians were up against.
The leader of the rebel squad was Movsar Barayev, 25, the nephew of a Chechen rebel leader. With him were 21 men and 19 women. The women’s job was to guard the hostages, and on command, to detonate the explosives strapped to their waists.
Eventually, after pumping the theatre with an anesthetic gas, Russian forces entered the theatre, killing all the assailants. However, the seemingly successful rescue quickly turned to tragedy – when the gas used in the rescue proved to be lethal, killing 129 hostages. No theatregoers were actually executed by the terrorists.