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Russia: Eight Children Released By Hostage Takers

Moscow, 25 October 2002 (RFE/RL) -- Russian officials say Chechen militants who are holding hundreds of hostages in a Moscow theater have released eight children. The children were accompanied to a crisis center by representatives of the Red Cross.

But authorities said that the release of foreigners held captive in the theater, promised by the hostage takers, was delayed after negotiations broke down.

About 75 foreigners are believed to be among the estimated 700 people being held by the rebels. They include Ukrainians, Azerbaijanis, Georgians, Americans, Germans, Britons, Dutch, Austrians, and Australians.

Earlier today, Russian officials announced that the rebels released seven hostages. It was not immediately clear why they had been freed.

The developments came after the hostages spent their second night in the theater following its seizure by rebels during a performance the night of 23 October.

The rebels have threatened to blow up the building and harm the hostages if Russian forces do not pull out of Chechnya.