Accessibility links

Four Days At Dubrovka

Ten years ago, on October 23, 2002, Chechen militants seized the Dubrovka theater in Moscow, taking some 900 people hostage. On October 26, Russian security forces launched a full-scale assault in which all the armed radicals and 130 hostages died. Most of the victims were killed by a narcotic gas pumped into the theater to subdue the hostage-takers. These photos show how the crisis unfolded over four agonizing days.

Chechen rebels took over the Dubrovka theater on October 23, taking some 900 theater-goers hostage and demanding that Russian troops withdraw from Chechnya. Here, Special Task Force troops surround the building.
1

Chechen rebels took over the Dubrovka theater on October 23, taking some 900 theater-goers hostage and demanding that Russian troops withdraw from Chechnya. Here, Special Task Force troops surround the building.

The Dubrovka theater was staging a performance of the musical 'Nord-Ost.'
2

The Dubrovka theater was staging a performance of the musical 'Nord-Ost.'

Special Task Force troops surround the building in the first hours of the crisis.
3

Special Task Force troops surround the building in the first hours of the crisis.

Police surround the theater on October 23.
4

Police surround the theater on October 23.

Interior Ministry troops stationed outside the theater
5

Interior Ministry troops stationed outside the theater

These patients were evacuated from a nearby hospital during the crisis. The militants were armed with explosive devices, threatening to blow up the theater.
6

These patients were evacuated from a nearby hospital during the crisis. The militants were armed with explosive devices, threatening to blow up the theater.

Police stand by on alert on October 24.
7

Police stand by on alert on October 24.

Representatives of Doctors Without Borders (Medecins Sans Frontieres) wave a white flag in an effort to gain access to the hostages.
8

Representatives of Doctors Without Borders (Medecins Sans Frontieres) wave a white flag in an effort to gain access to the hostages.

Doctors remove a victim who had been shot by the militants.
9

Doctors remove a victim who had been shot by the militants.

Reporters gather at the police cordon to wait for news from inside the theater.
10

Reporters gather at the police cordon to wait for news from inside the theater.

Hostage Maria Shkolnikova leaves the theater with a letter in which the hostages urge Russian President Vladimir Putin to meet the militants' demands and withdraw Russian troops from Chechnya.
11

Hostage Maria Shkolnikova leaves the theater with a letter in which the hostages urge Russian President Vladimir Putin to meet the militants' demands and withdraw Russian troops from Chechnya.

People gathered outside volunteer to take the place of the hostages.
12

People gathered outside volunteer to take the place of the hostages.

Special task forces gather nearby on October 25.
13

Special task forces gather nearby on October 25.

An ambulance and a priest stand by.
14

An ambulance and a priest stand by.

Relatives of the hostages await news.
15

Relatives of the hostages await news.

Police officers update their lists of the hostages and their relatives. 
16

Police officers update their lists of the hostages and their relatives. 

Representatives of the Red Cross gain access to the theater on October 25.
17

Representatives of the Red Cross gain access to the theater on October 25.

 Commandos with dogs patrol outside.
18

 Commandos with dogs patrol outside.

19
Security officers keep the area cordoned off.
20

Security officers keep the area cordoned off.

On October 26, the fourth day of the hostage crisis, special forces stormed the theater. Here, doctors help a hostage wounded in the raid.
21

On October 26, the fourth day of the hostage crisis, special forces stormed the theater. Here, doctors help a hostage wounded in the raid.

Troops carry out hostages, many of whom were badly affected by the gas pumped into the theater to subdue the militants.
22

Troops carry out hostages, many of whom were badly affected by the gas pumped into the theater to subdue the militants.

Ambulances rush some of the victims to nearby hospitals. Some 130 civilians died during the raid. The European Court of Human Rights later ruled that Russian authorities took too little care to protect the hostages and treat them for exposure to the narcotic gas.
23

Ambulances rush some of the victims to nearby hospitals. Some 130 civilians died during the raid. The European Court of Human Rights later ruled that Russian authorities took too little care to protect the hostages and treat them for exposure to the narcotic gas.

A militant killed during the operation to free the hostages
24

A militant killed during the operation to free the hostages

The main explosive device planted by the militants, all of whom were killed in the raid
25

The main explosive device planted by the militants, all of whom were killed in the raid

XS
SM
MD
LG