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Russian Security Forces Thwart Hostage Taking In Siberia

By Grigori Krichevsky

Moscow, Jan. 18 (RFE/RL) - Russian security units used force to free nearly 30 civilians being held hostage in western Siberia yesterday, killing the hostage-taker and injuring one hostage.

Our correspondent in Moscow quotes Russian Interior Ministry officials as saying that the Russian forces stormed a bus with the hostage-taker and his captives at a local airport near the western Siberian city of Surgut.

An armed, unemployed 23-year-old Russian, Maxime Belozerov, had taken about 28 workers hostage at an oil rig near Surgut.

The Itar-Tass news agency says he demanded to be taken to Dagestan, where Russian troops are battling Chechen gunmen holding hostages.