a spokesman for Moscow police, said there were between 40
and 50 hostage-takers, among them women of "non-Slavic"
demanding to resolve the situation in the Chechen Republic,
specifically pulling out Russian troops," he said.
a large group of armed men stormed the Palace of Culture of
the Podshipnikov Zavod, fired several shots into the air and
refused to let adults leave the theater.
Girbakin said there
were about 600 hostages inside. Initial reports put about
40 actors, 35 musicians, 50 staff members and an audience
of 600 inside the hall.
police officers and security officials and numerous emergency
vehicles were deployed around the theater. The standoff began
about 9:05 p.m. (1:05 p.m. ET).
There was a brief
exchange of gunfire about five hours into the standoff, but
there were no reports of casualties.
Russian radio broadcast
pleas from hostages speaking by cell phones who said that
if police stormed the theater, the gunmen would kill 10 hostages
for each hostage-taker killed by police. The gunmen also told
police they have mined parts of the building.