MOSCOW -- Relatives and friends today commemorated the victims of the hostage-taking at Moscow's Dubrovka Theater on the ninth anniversary of the end of the standoff, RFE/RL's Russian Service reports.
The victims' relatives displayed photographs of those killed, laid flowers, and lit candles near the entrance to the theater. Students from a local secondary school formed a guard of honor, and 130 balloons were released in memory of the hostages who died.
On October 23, 2002, a group of up to 50 Chechen fighters occupied the Dubrovka during a performance of the musical "Nord-Ost" and took the actors and audience -- 850 people in all -- hostage to demand the withdrawal of Russian troops from Chechnya.
Three days later security forces stormed the theater in an assault in which some 40 of the hostage-takers and 130 hostages died. Most of the victims were killed by the toxic gas pumped inside the theater to subdue the militants.
Relatives of people killed in other terrorist acts and hostage-takings in Moscow, Volgodonsk, and Beslan also attended today's commemoration.
Sergei Karpov, a representative of the public organization Nord-Ost, said today that some 70 children lost their parents as a result of the hostage-taking. He said many of those who survived the ordeal are chronically ill and need money for medical treatment.
Read more in Russian here